Report: NFL investigating 49ers for potential COVID-19 protocol violations

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The NFL and the NFLPA are investigating the San Francisco 49ers for potential violations of the league’s COVID-19 protocol, the Associated Press reports.

49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is also under investigation, per the report.

The investigation is centered on whether or not Bourne wore a face mask at team facilities, as is required by NFL rules. The 49ers placed Bourne on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday after he tested positive for the coronavirus. His agent confirmed the positive test.

Several players sidelined after Bourne positive

Contact tracing revealed that fellow wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk as well as starting left tackle Trent Williams had exposure to Bourne, resulting in all three players being ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

Kendrick Bourne and the 49ers are reportedly in the NFL's COVID crosshairs. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
Kendrick Bourne and the 49ers are reportedly in the NFL's COVID crosshairs. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Samuel, Aiyuk and Williams all tested negative on Wednesday. Because of the incubation period associated with COVID-19, the negative tests don’t mean that the 49ers players weren’t infected. The coronavirus can take days to detect after infecting a person.

Bourne’s COVID status unclear

Bourne has also reportedly tested negative since testing positive. This does not mean that his initial positive was false. The AP reports that 104 NFL players have returned negative tests a day after recording a positive test. Of those, 101 eventually returned positive tests when tested again.

The NFL has gradually ramped up its COVID-19 protocols and punishments since the first cases of the season hit the league after Week 3, forcing multiple schedule changes and facility shutdowns.

The NFL fined the Tennessee Titans $350,000 after an outbreak at their facility resulted in an investigation that revealed people weren’t wearing masks at practice sessions. The league is also reportedly investigating the Las Vegas Raiders after multiple COVID-19 violations and six figures in fines were already levied against the team, its players and head coach Jon Gruden.

In addition to fines, the NFL has threatened teams with the loss of draft picks for severe COVID-19 protocol violations and the forfeiture of games if violations result in the league having to adjust the schedule.

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