49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

May 15, 2014
As stadium nears completion, 49ers hoping for green and gold


If you've been watching the 49ers' live stadium feed and wondering why the new grass gets a regular dousing while you are showing every third day due to California's drought, there's a reason. The stadium uses recycled -- or "gray"-- water, which is something you definitely don't want to use for your baths. The type of grass used, Bermuda Bandera, also requires up to 50 percent less water than other types used in the Bay Area.

I wrote about the green-i-ness of the new stadium a couple of years ago, and the team still is gunning for a LEED gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status. The Ravens have the only other sports venue in the United States with a LEED gold rating. (Jim Harbaugh is always playing second fiddle to his older brother).

Recycled water is one of the ways they hope to achieve that mark. Another is with solar panels, which will sit atop the three bridges that lead to the stadium as well as the roof of the tower suite. The team expects that the power generated from those panels will offset the power used in the 10 NFL games played there each year.

Some observations of a tour of the facility on Thursday:

* The team's spacious locker room is nearly complete, and it provides a noticeable home-field advantage. The ceilings are 18- to 20-feet high, whereas the visitor's locker room's are 10-feet high. The lockers are made of walnut, which is built into the ceiling as well. The visitor's space is painted a dark gray. The 49ers' locker room is roomy even now despite temporary lockers for the 90-man offseason locker. It will have 64 lockers when the regular season begins. The 49ers are not yet ready to move into their new digs, but it will serve as the team's primary locker room - for practices, offseason, etc. - once the stadium is complete.

May 14, 2014
49ers' Levi's Stadium to host Pac-12 Championship


The Pac-12 has been the only major conference that's held its championship football game in a non-neutral site. That will change this year when the conference's North and South champions meet at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 5. A press conference announcing the new site will be held Thursday at the 49ers' new stadium.

The 69,000-seat stadium is the first NFL venue to be built in California since the 1960s. It will host its first game on Saturday, Aug. 2 when the MLS Earthquakes host the Seattle Sounders. That match will be used as a test run to make sure all of the stadium's operations - from parking to concessions to the video boards - work properly.

The first NFL game will be held Sunday, Aug. 17 when the Broncos play the 49ers in the preseason. Levi's Stadium has its initial regular-season game in Week 2, Sunday, Sept. 14 when the Bears arrive for a prime-time game. The City of Santa Clara asked that the 49ers not host any weekday games in the first year of the stadium. A percentage of the parking spaces that will be used on game days belong to nearby businesses, which ostensibly will be occupied on weekdays. The 49ers will host the Seahawks on Thanksgiving when, of course, those private parking spaces will be available.

The Pac-12 championship will not be the only college game at the new stadium. Cal will host Oregon on Oct. 24, a Friday night game. The Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences also have a six-year deal in place from 2014-2019 to play the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at Levi's Stadium

The Pac-12 championship game also will be on Friday, although the time has not yet been announced. The 49ers have their bye the week of the Cal game; they are on the road for two straight weeks following the Pac-12 championship. The Pac-12 has been the only major conferences without a neutral site. The SEC plays its championship game in Atlanta, the ACC in Charlotte, and the Big Ten in Indianapolis.

-- Matt Barrows

April 23, 2014
Thanksgiving gravy: Thoughts on the 49ers' schedule


* The 49ers schedule is out, and the highlight? It has to be the Thanksgiving nightcap against the Seahawks. A Seahawks-49ers game is big enough. The first one ever in Levi's Stadium makes it huge. But a nationally televised game on the most American of holidays? This is going to be Turkeygeddon.

The game is part of a triple header of division rivalries. The Lions will host the Bears and the Cowboys will host the Eagles before the west coast finale, which will serve as the apple and almond pie of the day. What's more, the 49ers will travel to Seattle two weeks later for a game that could be even bigger. Sandwiched between those games is a bus trip to play the Raiders. The Sunday prior to their Thanksgiving game, the 49ers play at home vs. Washington while the Seahawks host the Cardinals.

* One item of note when it comes to the arch-rival Seahawks: If, as expected, star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman returns from his ACL injury at midseason, it means he would be on hand for both showdowns with the defending NFC West and Super Bowl champs. The same would go for Aldon Smith if, say, he is given an eight-game suspension. That, of course, is pure speculation, but he is expected to sit out at least some games in 2014.

* Many suspected that the first-ever regular season game at Levi's Stadium would feature a marquee opponent like the Seahawks or the Alex Smith-led Chiefs. Others guessed that the home opener would be an event in and of itself and that the opponent would not matter. The second camp wins. The 49ers will christen their new stadium in Week 2 vs. the Bears, who are certainly an interesting opponent but not an arch rival. The Chiefs arrive in Week 5, which is scheduled as a regular 1:25 p.m. start on CBS. This year, however, games can be flexed to Sunday night beginning Week 5. So there's a still a prime-time possibility for this matchup.

April 9, 2014
Preseason schedule: Broncos to help 49ers break in new stadium


Which NFL opponent gets to break in Levi's Stadium?

The honor goes to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who will visit the 49ers in the second week of the exhibition season (Aug. 14-18). The 49ers will open the summer schedule on the road against the Ravens (Aug. 7-10) before testing out their new home against the Broncos and then the Chargers on Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. They will finish the preseason on the road on Aug. 28 against the Texans. The start times for three of the four games have yet to be determined.

The 49ers' game in Baltimore means that Jim Harbaugh will have faced his brother, John, in the regular season, the postseason and now the exhibition season. Preseason games held three time zones away are rare but not unprecedented. The 49ers traveled to Indianapolis in 2010. This year's game is the first time they've played the Ravens in the preseason.

This will be the third straight year the 49ers and Raiders will not face each other in the preseason. Violence during and after the teams' game in 2011 at Candlestick Park suspended what had been an annual summer meeting. The 49ers will visit the Raiders during the regular season. They also will visit the Broncos and host the Chargers during the regular season.

The first game played at $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium will be a soccer match between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 2. That match will be used as a test run to make sure all of the stadium's operations - from parking to concessions to the video boards - work properly.

The regular-season schedule is expected to be released later this month. Team officials have said they will be on the road in Week 1 before hosting their first real game at Levi's Stadium in Week 2 on Sept. 14. The City of Santa Clara has asked that the 49ers not host any weekday games in the first year of the stadium. A percentage of the parking spaces that will be used on game days belong to nearby businesses, which ostensibly will be occupied on weekdays.

That means the team will not host any games on Monday or non-holiday games on Thursday in the inaugural season at the new stadium. However, it's possible they could host the last of the three games played on Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, the NFL today announced that next year's Pro Bowl will be played in Glendale Ariz., the site of the Super Bowl, which will be played a week later. Santa Clara will host the following year's Super Bowl, but the Pro Bowl game is expected to return to its usual location, Honolulu, that year.

-- Matt Barrows

February 14, 2014
Let there be light: Thoughts on the 49ers' new stadium

When 49ers first unveiled plans for their new, 69,000-seat stadium, they said the goal was to pay homage to area's mild weather and abundant sunshine with an open, airy stadium. After touring the mostly-built stadium this week, my impression was that they succeeded.


The two concepts that jump out most are light and space. For example, the suite tower on the west flank - the stadium's money maker - is built of glass on both the side that looks onto the field and the side that looks west toward the Santa Cruz Mountains. The main club in that tower includes a large atrium that spans the width of the suite tower. At the risk of going too high brow on you, it reminded me of newly built entrances to museums - the Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., for example - or even the newest airport terminals in which glass, natural light and large spaces replace artificial lighting.

The concourses have the same effect. They're reminiscent of the concourses at the newest baseball parks in that they're roomy - they average 63 feet in width -- and you never lose sight of the field. You could walk from the northwest corner of one end zone to the southwest corner of the other and watch the game the whole time. The spacious promenade on the northwest corner - where there will be a beer garden - also makes the stadium seem light and open.

February 12, 2014
49ers stadium closing in on completion

SANTA CLARA - The grass field is growing on a sod farm outside of Turlock. Half of the red seats have been installed. The dry wall is up and the furniture is on the way.

The 49ers on Wednesday provided a tour of their airy, new, 69,000-seat stadium, which confirmed what anyone driving past the facility in recent months has suspected - the heavy lifting is done and the project is nearly finished.

Project manager Jack Hill estimated that construction on Levi's Stadium, which began in April 2012, is 80 percent complete. He said approximately three percent of the remaining work will be accomplished each month from this point forth, meaning the stadium should be ready to use by August, just in time for the first event there, a Major League Soccer match between the Seattle Sounders FC and the San Jose Earthquakes on Aug. 2.

The 49ers will break in their new field with an exhibition game some time in the two weeks after that. The tour included stops at:

* The 49ers locker room, which is far larger than the one the team has been using at Candlestick Park and which will serve as the main locker room during the offseason and for weekly practices. Players will have access to hot and cold tubs as well as a hydrotherapy pool that will enable rehabilitating players to work out on a treadmill that's submerged in the pool.

January 11, 2014
So long, 'Stick: Seahawks make sure championship game is in Seattle


The dream of a last hurrah at Candlestick Park is dead. And for that you can blame the Seahawks defense and running back Marshawn Lynch. They were their usual dominant selves at home today in a 23-15 win over the Saints, meaning that the NFC championship game will be played at CenturyLink Field next week featuring the winner of Sunday's 49ers-Panthers game.

This development comes as no surprise to the 49ers, who split the regular-season meeting with their division foes and who have been hoping for an eventual rubber match in Seattle for many weeks now.

"We understand that it's going to come down to going to Seattle and winning," safety Donte Whitner said three weeks ago. "We understand that. No matter what team it is in the NFC, you're going to have to go to Seattle to win, so that's the only thing -- winning football games and then going up there and beating them in their home stadium."

Before the season even began, the 49ers and Seahawks seemed destined to face each other in the NFC Championship game. The 49ers must win tomorrow against the Panthers to make that a reality. Carolina beat the 49ers in Week 10, 10-9, but the 49ers have won all but one game since. Furthermore, there are several key players who will play in tomorrow's game -- Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Eric Reid and Garrett Celek -- who did not finish the contest on Nov. 10. That's likely a big reason why the 49ers are slight favorites heading into the game.

The 49ers will move into their new, 69,000-seat stadium for the upcoming season. The final regular-season game at Candlestick Park was on Dec. 23. If the 49ers and Saints had won this weekend, there would have been one final game at the venerable stadium.

-- Matt Barrows

September 11, 2013
Speak up: Seattle crowd attempting noise record vs. 49ers


The question struck Joe Tafoya in the middle of the night in early July. The Seahawks stadium is famously loud. Could it be world-record loud?

So at 3 a.m., the former Seahawks defensive end hopped on the Internet, found the site for Guinness World Records and fired off an application.

On Sunday evening, he and a legion of Seahawks backers will get their answer when their team takes on the hated San Francisco 49ers. A monitor from Guinness will be on hand at CenturyLink Stadium to see if the din can reach 131.77 decibels, making it the loudest crowd ever recorded. The current record holders, the fans of Galatasary, a Turkish soccer team, reached 131.76 decibels during a match against rival Fenerbahce on March 18, 2011.

Tafoya noted that the Turkish fans set the record with the aid of vuvuzelas and other noise-making devices. Those aren't permitted in NFL venues, meaning the Seattle fans will have to do it by clapping their hands, stomping their feet and exhausting their vocal chords. "That's similar to a jet engine," he said of the noise level. "In order for us to break the record, it's going to have to be extremely loud."

3M is passing out earplugs before the game.

July 9, 2013
It might get loud: Seahawks fans to attempt decibel record vs. 49ers


Do Seahawks fans despise the 49ers as much as followers of Galatasaray Spor Kulub hate Fenerbahce Spor Kulub? We'll find out Sept. 15.

That's when the 49ers visit CenturyLink Field and when the fans there hope to set a Guinness world record for the loudest crowd. The current record holders, the fans of Galatasary, a Turkish soccer team, achieved a din of 131.76 decibels during a match against rival Fenerbahce on March 18, 2011.

According to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a Seahawks fan group called Volume12 has applied to Guinness to break the record and figures that the 49ers game will bring fans to full roar. The 49ers players, especially the offensive linemen, long have acknowledged that Seattle is their loudest and toughest venue, and they suffered the worst loss of the Jim Harbaugh era, 42-13, there on their most recent visit. In fact, the 49ers have lost seven of their last 10 contests in Seattle.

The good news: The 49ers can take solace that despite all the noise from those blasted Galatasary backers in 2011, visiting Fenerbahce triumphed 2-1.

-- Matt Barrows

June 17, 2013
Dear Mr. Fantasy: 49ers strike deal with Yahoo to enhance stadium experience


Want to see yourself and your buddies on the big screen at Levi's Stadium? One of the facility's features will be booths in which fans can upload their pictures to Flickr, which could then be used as part of a gallery displayed on the stadium screens on game days.

The feature is part of a partnership announced today between the 49ers and Yahoo!, which operates Flickr, Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football and other sites that will be part of the fan experience at the technologically ambitious stadium. The deal between the 49ers and Sunnyvale-based Yahoo! is for 10 years.

"Yahoo! is a tremendous example of Silicon Valley innovation at work," 49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement. "Their experience in servicing the fan and wealth of resources will serve integral roles as we strive to present an unparalleled experience to visitors of Levi's® Stadium."

One of the issues facing the NFL is that watching games from home has become preferable to some fans to watching them at the stadium. York's vision for the new stadium is to give fans many of the perks they have at home, including the bandwidth to operate hand-held devices and check fantasy football updates.

According to the release, the agreements gives Yahoo! entitlement and branding rights to the Fantasy Football lounge, and its two adjacent viewing platforms, located in the stadium's suite tower, as well as integration into the in-stadium fan experience and broadcast and digital media. Team President and co-owner Gideon Yu has worked for several Silicon Valley companies, including Yahoo!

Terms of the deal were not announced. The 49ers also have partnered Violin Memory, Brocade, NRG Energy, Sony and SAP at the new stadium. Last month they announced a 20-year, $220 million naming rights deal with Levi Strauss.

-- Matt Barrows

June 11, 2013
Worker killed at 49ers stadium in Santa Clara


Work has been shut down on the 49ers' new $1.3 billion stadium after a construction worker was killed in an elevator shaft at 6:50 a.m today. Exactly how the fatality occurred is under investigation, according to officials for Turner-Devcon, the general contractor for the project.

There are approximately 1,000 people working on the stadium, which is due to be completed a little more than a year from now. Turner-Devcon said all workers must take a safety orientation and safety training before beginning work.

Stadium construction has been halted while Cal-OSHA interviews workers and conducts an investigation. Construction at Levi's Stadium has been around the clock since a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in April of 2012.

The 49ers posted a statement on their web site at 9:45 a.m.: "The 49ers organization was deeply saddened to learn this morning of the news at the construction site. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers affected by this tragedy. The 49ers family has lost a teammate today."

The 49ers and the Bay Area recently were awarded Super Bowl L, which will be played in February 2016 at the new stadium. The 49ers will begin playing there in 2014. This is their final season at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

The 49ers will kickoff a three-day minicamp today on their practice fields, which are adjacent to the stadium.

-- Matt Barrows

May 17, 2013
Let's start the bidding: 49ers, Bay Area to learn Super Bowl fate Tuesday


At around noon on Tuesday, the Bay Area will learn whether it's hosting Super Bowl L, Super Bowl LI or neither.

Here's how it will play out. All three regions in the running for the two games - the Bay Area, South Florida and Houston - will give 15-minute presentations to the NFL owners who are holding a league meeting in Boston next week. The Bay Area and South Florida are bidding for Super Bowl L, which will be played in February 2016. The loser of that bid will take on Houston for the right to host Super Bowl LI in February 2017.

The NFL owners will vote by secret ballot and the ballots will be tabulated by NFL vice president of events Frank Supovitz. On the first vote, a region must get 75 percent of the votes to win. (In most years, there are three regions vying for the Super Bowl). If neither the Bay Area nor South Florida gets 75 percent, it goes to a second vote in which 75 percent also is needed. If that threshold still isn't met, a third vote is taken in which a simple majority is needed for the win.

At that point, Supovitz will hand the results to commissioner Roger Goodell, who will announce a winner. Then the voting will begin anew between the losing region and Houston. I'm told NFL Network will air the event.

It will be an upset if the Bay Area doesn't get Super Bowl L, the 50th game played and one that has more prestige than other recent games because it will reflect on all the past Super Bowls. It will be a colossal upset if the Bay Area gets shut out entirely.

May 3, 2013
Florida stadium bill failure good news for Bay Area Super Bowl


The 49ers and the Bay Area took another step toward securing Super Bowl L today when Florida lawmakers could not work out a deal to provide taxpayer support for a $350 million upgrade of Sun Life Stadium. The Bay Area and South Florida are competing to host what is expected to be the marquee Super Bowl in recent years - the 50th game played - and the renovations are seen as key to South Florida winning the bid.

NFL owners will meet in Boston May 21 to award Super Bowls L and LI, which will be played in February 2016 and 2017 respectively. The Bay Area and South Florida are in the mix for Super Bowl L while the loser will take on Houston for the right to host Super Bowl LI.

The non-deal in Florida likely means that a referendum on the renovations scheduled for May 14 will be called off.

Meanwhile in the Bay Area, mayors from a number of area cities, including San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Clara, were on hand two months ago to check on the progress of the 49ers' new $1.2 billion stadium and to show that they are in lock step in trying to secure a Super Bowl.

Bid committee chairman Daniel Lurie would not put a figure on the economic impact to hosting a Super Bowl, but he noted that other cities that have held the event have reported a boost of anywhere from $250 million to more than $500 million. "We don't want to over promise," Lurie said at the time. "What we see is that every city that's had a Super Bowl wants it back."

The first Super Bowl was played in Los Angeles in 1967, and there would be a nice bit of symmetry if the 50th game were played in California as well. The state hasn't hosted a Super Bowl since the Raiders and Buccaneers squared off in San Diego in 2003. The last game in the Bay Area was in 1985.

The 49ers have long felt they will win one of the next Super Bowls to be awarded. The 50th game, of course, holds the most prestige, and that's the one the 49ers are gunning to get. Their new stadium is on track to be ready in 2014. Two full seasons must be played at a new facility before it hosts a Super Bowl.

-- Matt Barrows

March 19, 2013
New kicker Dawson eager for a rainy day at Candlestick


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night ...

General manager Trent Baalke today cited Phil Dawson's bad-weather prowess as one of the reasons why the 49ers thought so highly of the 14-year kicker and why the team signed him to a one-year deal. Indeed, Dawson spent his career kicking on the shores of Lake Erie and in other nearby cities - Pittsburgh, for instance - where the weather turns nasty starting in the late fall.

He hasn't, however, had a lot of practice inside Candlestick Park. Dawson, in fact, is 1-2 in two appearances in San Francisco in 2011 and 2003. One of the questions he asked team officials during his recent visit was weather the stadium was accessible in the offseason. The answer is yes, and Dawson said he'd monitor the weather reports as soon as he brings his family to the Bay Area.

"And when it's supposed to be bad days, you can find me in there," he said. "Because I want to get in there and I want to start hitting balls and I want to see what's going on and get a game plan. That's part of my job. I don't necessarily have an opponent across the line of scrimmage I have to study and be prepared for but I do need to know the conditions I'm going to face."

March 6, 2013
All in: Ed Lee, Bay Area mayors pledge support for Super Bowl bid


The City of San Francisco may have felt jilted when the 49ers decided to build their new, $1.2 billion stadium 40 miles to the south in Santa Clara.

San Francisco is over that now.

That was the theme during a media event at the stadium today where San Francisco mayor Ed Lee, San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Santa Clara mayor Jamie Matthews spoke about the regional effort for - and regional benefits of - landing a Super Bowl at the new stadium. The game would be played in Santa Clara but San Francisco would be the focal point for the week's festivities.

The San Francisco Super Bowl Bid Committee will make its pitch for hosting Super Bowl 50 or 51 at the NFL owners meeting in Boston on May 21.

"I've already turned the page on the Niners building a stadium here," said Lee atop the stadium's northwest promenade. "... The strength of the bid will be in the collaboration of the region."


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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