LAS VEGAS — The San Francisco 49ers held their first on-field activity of the week at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas on Monday. It won’t be their last.
According to players, the surface was a little bit soft as they went through their walk-through, but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said at Super Bowl opening night that the team does not intend to alter where or how it will practice this week.
“It is what it is,” Shanahan said. “We’ll be all right. It’s the field we got. We’re good.”
Earlier Monday morning, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that members of the Niners organization did not care for the playing surface at UNLV. In anticipation of the 49ers using the fields this week, the NFL installed a sod field on top of the current field turf surface. Sources told Schefter that the sod field was installed just last week though the NFL normally requires Super Bowl practice fields to meet certain standards in December and that the NFL hardness score for fields averages 78 with no field’s score being less than 70. The Niners’ field for the week landed somewhere in the 50s.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell disagreed with the notion that the fields were not up to standard during his Super Bowl news conference on Monday morning.
“That work is being done every single day,” Goodell said. “We’ve had 23 experts out there. We’ve had the union out there. All of them think it’s a very playable surface. It’s softer than what they have practiced on, but that happens. It’s well within all of our testing standards. It is something that we think all our experts, as well as neutral field inspectors, have all said, unanimously, that it’s a playable field.”
The 49ers are scheduled to practice at UNLV on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon before meeting the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.
The Chiefs are using the Las Vegas Raiders‘ practice facility in Henderson, Nevada, this week. One of the factors in the Niners’ decision to continue at UNLV was a reluctance to change the team’s schedule in order to go elsewhere. Shanahan has been adamant about maintaining a routine as the team installed the game plan last week during the bye and is planning to fine-tune it this week.
“We’re not going to completely change our schedule and do something crazy,” Shanahan said. “We’ll deal with what we got.”
Multiple 49ers players noted Monday night that the playing surface at UNLV felt “a little soft” during the walk-through. Players such as end Nick Bosa and tight end George Kittle have been outspoken proponents of player safety when it comes to the surfaces, but that has generally been aimed at stadiums with artificial turf.
This is the second consecutive year that a Super Bowl or Super Bowl-related playing surface has come under the microscope. It was a storyline after last year’s Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, when a slick field caused footing problems for the Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. The field at Allegiant Stadium for Sunday’s matchup is a sod surface that will be rolled in from outside before the game.
Despite their displeasure with the UNLV fields, the 49ers didn’t want to make it more of an issue on Monday night, noting that practice and the game are two different things.
“We’re not playing on it, so we’re not tripping,” cornerback Charvarius Ward said. “I’m not concerned at all. I can run full speed at any surface. I played football on the street as a kid.”