The 49ers’ home field didn’t give them much of an advantage last season.
The team went 4-4 in its inaugural season at Levi’s Stadium, with some of their most forgettable performances occurring in front of the home fans. That includes a Week 2 loss to the Bears in which the 49ers blew a 17-0 lead, a Thanksgiving night dud against the Seahawks in which they managed only a field goal and a rare defensive meltdown in Week 16 against the Chargers that saw them squander a 35-21 lead late in the third quarter.
One of new head coach Jim Tomsula’s goals this summer is to make home field feel more like home. To that end, the first eight practices of training camp will be held at Levi’s Stadium, beginning Saturday.
“I think the transition will be even smoother the more time we have on the field, the more comfortable we get with it,” Tomsula said last month. “It’s always good to be as comfortable as possible on your home field.”
Saturday’s practice begins at 7 p.m., and follows the Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Game at 4:30 p.m. Fans who buy tickets to that game can stay to watch the practice. Another public practice at Levi’s will be on Aug. 9.
Tomsula also held a three-day minicamp last month at Levi’s, and the team believes it has solved the field issues that plagued it last year at this time. One of their public practices last August had to be shut down after players began slipping on the loose surface. A new surface was rolled in just days before an exhibition game against the Chargers.
Afterward, the team changed the composition of the soil and sand below the field, and is now confident it not only can handle regular practices but also a string of non-football events this summer.
Five days after the Aug. 9 public practice, for example, singer Taylor Swift arrives for the first of back-to-back concerts. The 49ers will host the Cowboys the following Sunday, Aug. 23. Six days after that, country singer Luke Bryan will be in town. And five days after that, Sept. 3, the Chargers will visit in the preseason finale.
The 49ers are prepared to re-sod the field several times this summer and during the season, and have pre-purchased grass for those occasions.
“After each large-scale event like that, we’ll do an evaluation and be prepared to rip out – whatever it is – 70-80,000 square feet of sod,” said Jim Mercurio, the vice president of stadium operations. “Whenever we decide to do it, we have mature grass that’s ready to be harvested and laid down.”
49ERS’ SUMMER SCHEDULE
Monday: Quarterbacks, rookies, first-year players and injured players reported for training camp
Friday: Full squad reports to training camp
Saturday: First full-squad practice
Aug. 4: First padded practice
Aug. 9: Practice open to 10,000 fans from noon to 4 p.m. Tickets are free but will be determined through a drawing. To register, go to http://49ers.wufoo.com/forms/p1k9sxrx1n8ry1r/ until Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Aug. 15: Preseason opener at Houston, 5 p.m.
Aug. 23: Preseason home opener vs. Dallas Cowboys, 5 p.m.
Aug. 26-27: Joint practices with Denver Broncos in Englewood, Colo.
Aug. 29: Preseason game at Denver, 6 p.m.
Sept. 1: By 1 p.m., 49ers must reduce roster to 75 players.
Sept. 3: Preseason finale vs. San Diego Chargers,
Sept. 5: Roster must be reduced to 53 players by
Sept. 6: Teams can begin building 10-man practice squad.