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LaMichael James of the San Francisco 49ers

LaMichael James is ready to make his preseason debut Sunday, but he’ll do so without the bulky, plastic brace that he says was like wearing “a 10-pound dumbbell on my arm.”

James tossed aside that brace for a lighter, more pliable one that he’ll wear against the San Diego Chargers. The 49ers running back suffered a dislocated right elbow on July 27 while trying to block linebacker Michael Wilhoite in a pass-protection drill.

James said he immediately knew what happened. He suffered similar dislocations in high school and college. The one at Oregon occurred Oct. 6, 2011, in a game against Cal. Three weeks later, he was back on the field.

James said he planned to do everything normal Sunday with the hope that the brace protects his arm.

Paul Kitagaki, Jr./ The Bee
The 49ers insist the surface for Sunday’s game vs. the Chargers will be fine. The team is still working on a plan for the rest of the season.

SANTA CLARA -- San Francisco 49ers COO Al Guido spent 20 minutes with reporters Friday discussing the playing field at Levi's Stadium. Here's everything you ever wanted to know about stadium grass:

What's happening now?

The 49ers ripped out the playing field – from sideline to sideline and from goal line to goal line – on Thursday. At about 4 a.m. Friday they began rolling down a heavier, 1 ½-inch thick sod that will serve as the playing surface for Sunday's game against the Chargers. The 49ers say that surface should be fine for that game.

Then what will happen?

file/ file
New rules this year mean that 49ers who were on the active roster last season are eligible for the practice squad this year.

SANTA CLARA -- Which 49ers are eligible for the practice squad? This year it would be easier to list which players aren't eligible. That's because new rules not only bumped the squad from eight to 10 players, it expanded the criteria for making the practice squad.

Previously, only players without an accrued season – six or fewer games in which they were active on game day – and who hadn't been on a practice squad more than two seasons already were eligible. The new rules allow teams to have up to two players who otherwise wouldn’t be eligible but have two or fewer accrued seasons.

Practice-squad eligible

CB Kennth Acker

The San Francisco 49ers’ $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium debuted Aug. 17 in a preseason matchup with the Denver Broncos. The only glitches: There were still a few traffic snarls getting to the game, the audio for the National Anthem was spotty and the grass on the field hasn’t fully taken root. Oh, and the home team appears to have suffered a major power outage. The 49ers had managed just one Phil Dawson chip-shot field goal in their first two warmup games, and they only sniffed the goal line on their final drive Sunday. They were stopped 2 yards short, and their Levi’s housewarming party turned into a 34-0 rout at the hands of the Broncos, the first time since 1979 the 49ers had been shut out at home in either the preseason or regular season.

Here’s more on the stadium:

•  Let’s start with the food, which was more than three years in the making. Those who make the trip to Santa Clara will find selections ranging from stadium staples (pizza, burgers, garlic fries) to artisanal fare synonymous with Bay Area cuisine (think Niman Ranch pulled pork sandwich with apple jalapeño coleslaw). Other highlights include multiple vegan and vegetarian options, cheese and bread from Bay Area companies, one of the fanciest “frankfurters” you’ll ever devour and plenty of craft beer from local and regional breweries. Read: Gourmet food is front and center at Levi’s Stadium.

•  Wild pitch? The 49ers had to halt their open practice at $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium less than an hour into the session on Aug. 20 after chunks of the field, which had already been torn up from the previous Sunday’s game, started to come up. Jim Harbaugh briefly gathered his team at midfield and then led them through the tunnel.

Paul Kitagaki Jr./ The Bee
Blaine Gabbert remains the frontrunner for the 49ers’ backup quarterback spot and again will be the second passer in the game for San Francisco, Jim Harbaugh said.

SANTA CLARA – There will be no shakeup in the quarterback order in the 49ers' third and most important preseason game, Jim Harbaugh said Friday. Blaine Gabbert will be the second passer off the bench, followed by Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

“Blaine is that guy right now,” Harbaugh said of the No. 2 quarterback.

Gabbert has struggled in the teams' first two exhibition games, and Harbaugh said after Sunday's loss to Denver that whoever doesn't turn the ball over will win the job.

Gabbert has completed 11 of 25 passes for 60 yards with two interceptions and a 17.9. Johnson also has two turnovers – both of them fumbles – while Bethel-Thompson also has thrown two interceptions. Harbaugh said he would not look outside the organization for a backup quarterback. No 49ers quarterback has engineered a touchdown drive.

Jeff Chiu/ AP
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has been known to use Harbaughian when talking to reporters after games.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press
Jim Harbaugh, shown in June of 2013, has a way with words. He might use the phrase “jive-turkey gobbler,” to describe someone that knows not of what he speaks.

Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers’ head coach, has a distinct lexicon. If you study this guide, practice in front of a mirror and converse with your friends, you, too, will be able to speak and understand Harbaughian.


This is Harbaugh’s way of describing a young player who is making progress. The exceedingly positive Harbaugh never has used the opposite, “arrow down.”

“He’s showing a good grasp of the offense. Arrow up there.”

The 49ers are experiencing problems with the grass that was laid in April. The middle of the field is being replaced.

After just one football game at $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers on Thursday were forced to tear up the playing field and replace it with new sod.

The field had become a hazard a day earlier, prompting coach Jim Harbaugh to abruptly halt the open practice and take his players to the team’s regular practice fields.

The 49ers host the Chargers at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m., and the team has vowed to have the field ready.

The grass started becoming an issue during the second half of Sunday’s game against Denver. Players said parts were coming up, particularly between the hash marks where most of the action takes place.

Quinn Western/Quinn Western
The fanciest hot dog you’ll likely ever eat: the Smokin’ Double Barrel Wagyu Dog ($18) with honey mustard, coleslaw, bacon and pork rinds.
Quinn Western/Quinn Western
Nachos ($14) at the Bourbon Pub are layered with the usual nacho fixings, but with a sweet corn salsa and topped with a fried egg.

To use a food metaphor, the San Francisco 49ers got creamed by the Denver Broncos in last week’s preseason game, the NFL debut of the new $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium.

Fans hope Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers will be more evenly matched. But if the on-field action fails to entertain, those who make the trip to Santa Clara always can focus on the food, which ranges from stadium staples (pizza, burgers, garlic fries) to artisanal fare synonymous with Bay Area cuisine (think Niman Ranch pulled pork sandwich with apple jalapeño coleslaw).

Other highlights include multiple vegan and vegetarian options, cheese and bread from Bay Area companies, one of the fanciest “frankfurters” you’ll ever devour and plenty of craft beer from local and regional breweries.

Levi’s Stadium’s food program was more than three years in the making, put together by professional chefs who toured other NFL stadiums, focus-grouped Niner fans and area foodies and test drove their many custom creations before they made the menu.

Ryan Mallett
Charles Krupa/AP
New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) throws a pass in the second half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass.

Do you know who Ryan Mallett is?

You’re not the only one. For all anyone knows, Mallett is Nathan Lane’s understudy in a Broadway musical.

Actually, that’s pretty close.

For the past three NFL seasons, he’s been Tom Brady’s backup with the New England Patriots, which is to say he wears a baseball cap for a living more than he does a football helmet.

NFC West Preview Football
Ben Margot, File/AP Photo
FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2014, file photo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Santa Clara, Calif. Kaepernick is locked up long-term and he will have tight end Vernon Davis, and wide receivers Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Stevie Johnson as targets all season.

See what The Bee's Matt Barrows - and hundreds of participants - had to say abut the 49ers as they head into the latter parts of a preseason that so far has been a little problematic.

Access the live chat from mobile devices here.

Live chat: 49ers preseason - should fans worry?

The Associated Press
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, talking with teammates Frank Gore and Vernon Davis at training camp last month, reportedly is progressing toward a contract extension with the 49ers one season removed from a torn Achilles tendon.

“Give us your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

Somewhere in their new stadium, the 49ers should post the “New Colossus” sonnet found at the foot of the Statue of Liberty and add their own ending: “... and we will fit them under our salary cap.”

That’s because no NFL team collects injured guys, troubled guys and otherwise discarded guys like the 49ers.

Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey tore his biceps tendon? No problem – the 49ers just signed him to a two-year contract extension.

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.

For 49ers blog posts before May 2014, go to the blog archives


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.

49ers Blog Archives

Note: The 49ers blog switched blog platforms in May 2014. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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