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49ers notes: Levi’s Stadium turf doesn’t hold up in open practice

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 - 7:50 pm

The 49ers halted Wednesday’s open practice at Levi’s Stadium less than an hour into the session after chunks of the field, which had been torn up during Sunday’s exhibition game against Denver, started to come up.

Coach Jim Harbaugh briefly gathered his players at midfield and then led them off the field through the stadium tunnel. The team finished the workout on its usual practice fields just east of the stadium. That session was closed to fans and media.

Bewildered fans at the open practice were told, via loudspeaker, they would get complementary tickets to the team’s new museum.

During one-on-one pass-rushing drills, linebacker Ahmad Brooks kicked up a sizable divot as he made a cut toward the inside. Consequently, coaches moved the drills a few feet away. At least one wide receiver, Bruce Ellington, went down when the grass seemed to give way under his foot. He got up slowly but remained in practice.

After Sunday’s game, some players said the grass had come up in places and noted that’s not unusual for a new field. The sod was laid in April, and it looked like a golf course fairway as recently as last week. By Wednesday, however, it looked like a well-used public course, especially between the hash marks, where most of the play occurs.

There won’t be a lot of opportunity for the sod to lay deep roots. The 49ers host San Diego on Sunday in their third preseason game. On Aug. 29, Levi’s is scheduled to host a high school football doubleheader, including Jesuit vs. De La Salle, and on Sept. 6, the Mexican national team will face Chile in soccer.

The 49ers’ first regular-season home game is Sept. 14 vs. Chicago.

Et cetera – Several starting defensive players who sat out Sunday’s game practiced Wednesday, a sign they will play against the Chargers. That group included cornerback Tramaine Brock and defensive linemen Justin Smith, Ian Williams and Ray McDonald.

• Linebacker Patrick Willis practiced but did so in a blue “non-contact” jersey. His status for Sunday is unknown.

• Running back LaMichael James was out of his blue jersey after recovering from a dislocated elbow suffered early in training camp. He is wearing a brace on his right arm.

• George W. Bush took the ALS ice bucket challenge Wednesday in Kennebunkport, Maine. Before doing so, the former president thanked those who challenged him, including Harbaugh, who took the challenge last week.

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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