The SF 49ers could have been rightfully upset with a false-positive COVID-19 test for Kendrick Bourne, which affected the team in Week 9.
Perhaps the SF 49ers would have lost their Week 9 Thursday Night Football bout against the Green Bay Packers anyway.
But at least the wave of player placements on the reserve/COVID-19 list just ahead of the game not happening would have made head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad a bit more competitive in what turned out to be a 34-17 loss.
Mere days before the game and on a short week, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne tested positive for COVID-19, which subsequently resulted in the Niners’ facility being shut down. And for being in close proximity, San Francisco was coerced to place fellow wideouts Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, as well as left tackle Trent Williams, on the same COVID list.
The only problem, though, was Bourne’s test proved to be a false positive, first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, who also mentioned the receiver’s case was just the fourth of such in 105 positives:
Rough break for San Francisco.
As a result, the SF 49ers were forced to field backup wide receivers like River Cracraft and Kevin White instead of Bourne and Aiyuk. While the latter’s combined absence opened up the door for depth wide receiver Richie James to have a career night, it’s awfully clear Shanahan’s offense would have been much more prolific with two of his best receivers in the fray.
His best offensive lineman, too.
Swing tackle Justin Skule, starting in place of Williams, was a massive blocking liability for the Niners for the entire game. Skule surrendered the strick-sack fumble on quarterback Nick Mullens, which the Packers recovered and turned into points.
Needless to say, one can fairly question whether or not anything like that would have happened if Williams was one the field.
SF 49ers could have been upset, but they weren’t
The rash of presumed COVID-19 infections and precautions on the short week could have convinced the league to at least postpone the game until the normal Sunday slate of games. Yes, there would have been some travel and accommodation jockeying for the traveling Packers.
But remember, the league bent backwards and forwards to accommodate the Tennessee Titans earlier this year, as their wave of COVID test drastically altered the schedule.
No such case for San Francisco.
Shanahan, however, was much more understanding than plenty of the fans in the wake of the Week 9 loss, telling NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco:
"It’s part of the protocols. It’s part of everything. I know it’s frustrating, but it is what it is. It’s what everyone in this world’s got to deal with right now. They’re doing that for the safety.Unfortunately, it wasn’t necessary. But I get why it happened. So (we) got to deal with it. We obviously dealt with it last night. Hopefully, we won’t have to going forward."
Had Shanahan called out the league for not postponing the game, it would have been understandable. But he took it in stride, perhaps recognizing the true difficulties both teams and the league face when dealing with the pandemic.
Sure, perhaps a delay in the game’s start would have benefited both squads — Thursday Night Football is still terrible, by the way — but Shanahan and the SF 49ers aren’t making much of a complaint.
Although they’d be justified if they decided to.