SANTA CLARA -- The third exhibition game will go on as scheduled Sunday on a freshly installed playing surface at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers cut short a practice session at the $1.2 billion stadium on Wednesday due to safety concerns with the playing field. The following morning, the grass playing surface was ripped out, exposing dirt from sideline to sideline, goal line to goal line.
A short-term solution of new grass with a deeper cut of attached roots and soil was planned to be installed for Sunday's exhibition game against the San Diego Chargers.
“They assured us that the field would be fine and ready to go at kickoff,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said Thursday while meeting with the San Diego-area media.
The 49ers did not comment on the problems with the $1.4 million grass surface that was installed in mid-April. The grass, known as Bandera Bermuda, was grown in the Central Valley for 18 months and came from West Coast Turf, the longtime supplier for Candlestick Park.
“We ultimately chose Bandera Bermuda turfgrass sod because after closely monitoring it for a couple years, we found it has a faster recovery rate, as well as the tendency to stay green longer into the season,” 49ers sports turf manager/head groundskeeper Matt Greiner said in April. “Most importantly, the Bandera Bermuda has good tensile strength so when a player plants his cleat, it holds together better.”
On Wednesday, routine player movements produced large divots. There was uneven footing and discolored grass from repairs that were made following the 49ers’ game Sunday against the Denver Broncos. Coach Jim Harbaugh led his team off the field shortly after wide receiver Stevie Johnson took a hard fall while running a simple out pattern during a 7-on-7 drill.
No member of the 49ers has commented on the field, other than a statement issued Wednesday night that apologized to inconvenienced fans who attended the team’s final open practice of training camp.
“We have determined the appropriate measures necessary to have the field ready for Sunday and look forward to hosting the San Diego Chargers,” the statement read.
While the 49ers would not elaborate on those plans, clearly a new playing surface was the final decision.
The Chargers will be prepared for whatever conditions they will encounter at Levi’s Stadium.
"The players bring a number of pairs of shoes every time we go on the road," McCoy said.