Jim Harbaugh: Field will be ready
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- While laborers continued to work feverishly Friday afternoon to lay down new sod at $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh insisted the field would be ready for Sunday's preseason game with the San Diego Chargers.
"As far as diving into this and peeling back the onion, I mean, what for?" Harbaugh said Friday. "We are getting a new field in. It will be in there for Sunday. It will be very good for this week, and our organization will always do things at the highest level."
Except, apparently, when it came to the original grass field, which was composed of Bandera Bermuda and planted in April, which should have given the grass enough time to take root.
Instead, new sod is being laid for Sunday's game -- from goal line to goal line and sideline to sideline. Al Guido, the COO of the 49ers, said this new sod is a "deeper cut" than the original and "an inch-and-a-half thick."
Reporters at the stadium were not allowed to view the new grass being installed.
Harbaugh, meanwhile, confirmed it will be taken out shortly thereafter and replaced by something "more permanent" before the 49ers' regular-season opener at home against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 14.
Guido said they would re-evaluate which type of grass to use after Sunday, the original Bandera or Tiffway, which are the two most commonly used in the NFL.
Guido also confirmed that a high school football doubleheader scheduled for Aug. 29 will be rescheduled for Oct. 10-11.
That will give the field a two-week window to settle after Sunday's 49ers-Broncos exhibition and before a Mexico-Chile international soccer match scheduled there Sept. 6.
Guido also said there was a plan all along to re-sod the field this season "but obviously, not this early ... it's unfortunate. We did not plan on pulling the sod this quickly."
Niners running back LaMichael James said he was not worried about slippage on the new turf come Sunday or altering his running style.
"That's when you get hurt," James said.
During Wednesday's practice, Harbaugh pulled his team off the field less than an hour into a public workout and led the 49ers back into their own practice facility next door. Receivers Bruce Ellington and Stevie Johnson both took tumbles in the hazardous conditions that day, when divots were flying out as players made simple cuts on the grass.
Before Wednesday's practice, there had been only a San Jose Earthquakes soccer match, a John Legend concert, two 49ers public practices and Sunday's exhibition between the 49ers and Denver Broncos.
"Just felt like there was too much slipping going on and, as it relates to the field, the action's been taken," Harbaugh said. "We're refitting, regrouping, retooling and the new field is going in. Once again, our organization, we can always count on them to do things at the highest level, and that's what's in process now, and we look forward to playing the game on Sunday."
Harbaugh said the condition of the new field would not affect how he manages his starters in the 49ers' third exhibition.
"I'm sure the field's going to be good and playable," he said.
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