SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

NFLPA sounds off on poor UNLV practice-field conditions for 49ers

Feb 7, 2024, 2:10 PM | Updated: 2:20 pm

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers speaks to the media during San Francisco 49ers ...

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The 49ers may be taking the high road when it comes to their practice field conditions, but the NFL Players Association [NFLPA] certainly is not. 

The NFLPA held their Super Bowl week press conference Wednesday, addressing a variety of topics around The Big Game. And they had a lot to say about the reported poor field conditions at UNLV, the practice facility for the San Francisco 49ers this week. 

NFLPA executive director Lloyd Howell Jr. stated that while the league office is content with the surface, the field “really isn’t up to snuff for what our players deserve. Hopefully, we’ve gotten to a workable condition, but the mere fact that you’re asking the question in our biggest event means that this is an issue.”

San Francisco 49ers players and coaching staff declined to speak too harshly about the field this week, seeing improvement each day with the conditions. But behind the scenes, the team is reportedly furious with the league office and so is former All-Pro center and current NFLPA president J.C. Tretter. 

“We talked last week that we need to raise the level to make both surfaces [grass and turf] high quality, and then a week later you’re saying it’s OK because it’s playable,” Tretter said. “Playable is not the same standard as high quality. It’s about as low as you can go to say it’s OK.

“What the experts agree on is when you’re putting a grass-sod field over existing turf, you would put a hard, plastic cover over the turf before putting on the side,” Tretter continued. “My understanding is that’s not what happened, which is adding to the issue of the softness of the field…I don’t know how that falls through the cracks. I don’t know how that doesn’t happen if that’s supposed to work, and now we have this issue leading to the Super Bowl.”

The 49ers have long been advocates for grass fields over turf fields, only working with the former in Santa Clara. SF has been burned by turf in the past, most recently at MetLife Stadium in 2020. These issues would be mitigated if their opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, weren’t spending their SB week at the Las Vegas Raiders’ state-of-the-art facility. That includes an indoor practice field, something the 49ers will be without.

Despite the differences, the Red & Gold just want a field equipped with quality grass, with the NFLPA agreeing wholeheartedly.

“The one issue where there was unanimous commentary was, ‘At the end of the day, I want to play on the highest quality grass surface,’” Howell said.

Upcoming Schedule for the San Francisco 49ers

  • Sunday, February 11th – Super Bowl LVIII – San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs – 3:30 PM PST

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