For better or worse, the 2020 NFL season will be a season unlike any other. Amid concerns around COVID-19 and new protocols around the league, adapting is going to be the key to success for any team. The San Francisco 49ers are ready.
“The offseason has been different, but we’re pros and we get our work in and we’ve been able to prepare and stay on top of our game,” said veteran cornerback Richard Sherman. “Obviously, it’s an adjustment and winning teams find a way to adjust the best in these situations. So I think the team that would adapt the best will be the one holding trophy at the end.”
Numerous players around the league have opted out of the season, including 49ers wide receiver Travis Benjamin. For others, the decision is to play and take all possible precautions in doing so.
“I’m not going to be opting out, but it was a very long and tough discussion with my wife,” said running back Raheem Mostert. “[S]he’s back in Cleveland with the family, with my 13 month old son, as well as we’re expecting our second child at the end of September. The discussions we’ve had, man, it’s been long and extensive…But she understands the importance of me being out here, and being able to provide for the family, and all those good things. We’ve had more positive talks than negative.”
Meanwhile, the running back and his restructured contract have work to do on the field.
“…I just want to go out there and be dominating,” Mostert said. “When I step out onto that field, I want everybody to say, ‘That’s a bad mo-fo. He’s somebody that we can’t take lightly.’ I want to put fear in other team’s eyes. That’s my mindset…”
The 49ers are a team on a mission. They were a few minutes away from being Super Bowl champions and they’d like to get back to Florida and claim that title come February.
“…We’re all hungry to get back at it and get going…” said linebacker Fred Warner.
The NBA’s bubble has been successful, thus far, in keeping the virus out and keeping the game going. But for leagues without a bubble, i.e. Major League Baseball, it has not been so easy, with both the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals suffering outbreaks that have postponed games around the league.
It is incumbent upon the players to do their part, when it comes to being responsible when they leave the facility. Richard Sherman is not concerned about this team.
“…I think on a team like ours…we’re uniquely constructed to deal with this because obviously we’re in Santa Clara, there’s not a huge nightlife,” said Sherman, making a very valid point. “It’s not like we’re in Atlanta or Texas or Miami or Las Vegas or LA where there’s a lot of distractions, a lot of places you can go, a lot of things you can do to get yourself in trouble. I think our team is incredibly focused because of how close we were to winning the Super Bowl last year and how that tastes in their mouth is a bit of discipline in itself. That hunger, that angst is discipline in itself so I think our team is incredibly committed and driven towards that goal. And I think that in itself will be discipline enough…”
Warner agrees with Sherman and feels his team is suited to succeed for other reasons as well.
“…[I]t is about adapting and I think we have one of the best locker rooms, one of the best groups of men in the whole NFL in our building,” Warner said. “I feel like everybody understands the situation and is willing to make the sacrifices needed. And like Sherman said you’ve got to adapt and things are going to change. Things are much different right now than they have been in the past. And I guarantee that things are going to continue to change as the season goes on and the NFL learns new things…I think we’re ready for the challenge and we’re going to do whatever we need to do.”
And from the perspective of the San Francisco 49ers, what they need to, is get back to the Super Bowl and win it.
“…I feel like we’re going to be back this year,” Mostert said. “We’re actually going to win it. That’s our goal. That’s our mindset. We don’t care what happened in the past. The past is the past. We’re going to move on and we’re going to dominate this game the way we know how to. The energy right now is just crazy. Especially during these walkthroughs. Guys are really amped up…We love each other. This is a family and a brotherhood. We’ll fight for it…We got some unfinished business. We’re ready to take care of business.”
Tampa or bust, baby.