While most San Francisco 49ers fans are still in mourning over their Super Bowl loss, one area professor believes their defeat helped slow the coronavirus spread. University of California San Francisco Department of Medicine chair Dr. Bob Wachter told The Wall Street Journal the comeback victory by the Kansas City Chiefs likely saved “countless” lives.
The professor’s reasoning is that — had the 49ers won — they would have held a parade through the streets of San Francisco. Chris Bengel of CBS Sports reported that the coronavirus outbreak was still in its infancy at the time when the parade would have been held. Santa Clara County, home of the 49ers, had just two confirmed cases of the disease then.
As epidemiologists have studied the disease, one thing has become clear. Hundreds if not thousands of people were walking around with COVID-19 in their system without knowing it. Some of those people would have gone to watch the 49ers celebrate their NFL championship and passed the disease onto others. In short, the parade route would have become a “hot spot.”
As it was, the infection didn’t take long to spread. San Francisco effectively had to be locked down in order to try and “flatten the curve.” Kansas City, by contrast, didn’t report its first confirmed case of COVID-19 until March 18, more than a month after the Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade.
As Bengel pointed out, those kinds of parades tend to draw millions of fans. Since the virus can be spread by coughing or sneezing in the direction of a person, Wachter said the outcome of a 49ers parade could have been catastrophic. That is why the professor called their loss “one of the lucky breaks that spared us from a much worse fate.”
The state of California has been under a stay-at-home order since the beginning of March. The state has had more than 24,000 confirmed cases and 725 deaths as of Wednesday morning. Dr. Wachter believes those numbers could have been much higher had the 49ers won the Super Bowl.
Bengel stated fans of the franchise were quite upset over how it lost to the Chiefs. There was a time when they appeared to be dominating their AFC opponent. Then quarterback Patrick Mahomes found his stride and the defense bowed up. The collapse was so damaging for some 49ers fans there was talk over the offseason about replacing Jimmy Garrapolo under center and pursuing Tom Brady instead.
However, Wachter believes 49ers fans should instead look at the loss as a hidden blessing.