SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers re-sodded the field at Levi’s Stadium from goal line to goal line and sideline to sideline with longer grass Friday and they expect no problems for Sunday’s preseason game against the San Diego Chargers.
Two high school games that had been scheduled for next Friday night in the $1.2 billion venue will instead be played in October or early November, giving the field plenty of time to be prepared for a Sept. 6 soccer match between Chile and Mexico.
“We’re refitting, regrouping, retooling and the new field is going in,” coach Jim Harbaugh said of the field. “What more can I say about it? We can count on our organization to always do things at the highest level. It’s that simple. … I’m sure the field is going to be good and playable. I think I’ve done well talking about grass.”
49ers Chief Operating Officer Al Guido said the team, league officials and other experts and consultants are working to solve the issue and determine why the initial sod laid in April failed to hold up at least well into the regular season as was expected. There had been plans to re-sod at some point this season when it was deemed necessary.
“What we knew is the sod wasn’t going to hold up for an NFL game. Obviously we didn’t want to do it this early,” Guido said. “It’s unfortunate. In the circles of the NFL world, this wasn’t big news. It’s big in the fact we never planned to take it up this early.”
Soil samples have been sent to a lab for evaluation. The new grass is 1 ½ inches thick — and artificial turf wasn’t considered.
“We feel very comfortable we can maintain great grass in this climate,” Guido said. “This field will be perfect Sunday.”
A workout that was open to the public Wednesday was cut short about an hour in and moved to the regular practice fields after players slipped. Guido said the team decided to re-sod the field and placed calls to the NFL and the Chargers.
After Sunday’s game, the sod will be lifted and studied again to determine whether to keep the current grass or re-sod it again immediately.
“We’re getting very close to the final solution,” Guido said. “This will not be the longer-term solution.”