When the regular-season schedule emerged in May, the evidence was hiding in plain sight. If the 49ers couldn’t play games in their own stadium due to the pandemic, Arizona made the most sense, given that the 49ers and Cardinals never play at home on the same day.
With the 49ers now unable to play at home, Arizona has emerged as the top choice for relocated 49ers games.
Via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona has become “the most likely option” for the 49ers. Another option would be a stadium in Texas.
An NFL stadium becomes critical to this equation because of the technology linking each stadium to the league office, allowing for real-time replay reviews. The quality of the playing surface also is an issue; at a time when not every NFL field is always up to snuff, plenty of non-NFL fields would be even worse.
The 49ers likely will set up a bubble wherever they go, especially since they won’t be able to practice in Santa Clara County between games. At this point, they should just head to a hotel close to wherever they will be practicing and playing, and they should stay there for the rest of the season.
The NFL Players Association likely will have a say in this, if players are informed that their job becomes, as a practical matter, a 24/7 proposition through the end of the season. Given that the alternative for players becomes not playing home games at all (and players not getting paid for them), the union likely will agree. If, however, these dramatically changed circumstances result in players being away from home for at least the next five weeks, players should get a chance to opt out for the balance of the season, giving up the balance of their salary but facing no penalties or punishment for walking away.