The irony of 49ers playing in Arizona, where COVID-19 rates are higher than home they left behind

NFL

The irony of 49ers playing in Arizona, where COVID-19 rates are higher than home they left behind

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The San Francisco 49ers, which usually are really the Santa Clara 49ers, are for the next few weeks the Arizona 49ers.

Confused yet? The 49ers aren’t allowed to play in Santa Clara County, the home of Levi’s Stadium, through at least Week 14 because of local legislation banning contact sports due to COVID-19. That means scheduled home games against the Bills and Washington Football Team needed a new host, and it’ll be State Farm Stadium, the Glendale home of the Arizona Cardinals, as the temporary home venue.

Besides the general oddity of an NFL team playing its home games in an entirely different state, there’s plenty of irony to this move, too. If you like being a cynic, keep reading.

MORE: Why are the 49ers playing in Arizona?

COVID-19 rates in Arizona

The 49ers couldn’t play in Santa Clara County because of an order banning local contact sports for three weeks due to rising COVID-19 rates locally. That seems logical, until you consider the COVID-19 rates in Maricopa County, where State Farm Stadium is located.

In the week prior to Thanksgiving, Santa Clara County had 19.1 new cases per 100,000 people. That number was 50.1/100K in Maricopa County. Maricopa County has also seen more than eight times the COVID-19 fatalities than Santa Clara County during the course of the pandemic.

The flip side of this coin is that the 49ers likely wouldn’t have been spending much time outside of team-sanctioned activities no matter where they were playing due to the pandemic taking hold across the country. But it’s definitely ironic that the 49ers were forced to move because of rules combating COVID-19, and they settled on a place where COVID-19 has an even stronger hold.

49ers’ home-road splits

Maybe moving away from Levi’s Stadium for a few weeks isn’t such a bad thing for the 49ers, though.

In five games played at home this season entering Week 13, the 49ers are 1-4. In four games played on the road, they’re 4-2. And yes, the two games hosted by San Francisco at State Farm Stadium will technically count as home games, but maybe there’s a Levi’s Stadium curse the 49ers won’t have to contend with.

No fans either way

While Arizona was allowing fans at NFL games earlier this season, the Cardinals’ most recent home game on Sunday, Dec. 6, wasn’t allowed to feature fans due to the rising COVID-19 levels. There’ll again be empty stands when the 49ers play the Bills on Monday night.

That would’ve been the case if San Francisco was still playing in Santa Clara County, too, where fans haven’t been allowed all season.

If no one is there to see the 49ers play in Arizona, did they even really play in Arizona?

Stadium color schemes

At least those watching on television won’t be totally thrown off by the stadium color scheme. The Cardinals and 49ers aren’t exactly the same shade of red, but it’s close enough that the empty red seats around the stadium won’t feel totally out of place.

The crew in Arizona does appear to have put up some 49ers signage, at least.

The Cardinals also played Sunday’s home game with an NFL logo at midfield rather than the usual Cardinal logo, apparently due to the presence of the 49ers, too. Wouldn’t want to forget who’s in charge as teams pound the run near the 50, after all.