SANTA CLARA — Colin Kaepernick cradled his eight-month-old nephew, Ezekiel, in his arms, then lifted the infant into the air, gently bouncing him up and down.
A few feet away, Bruce Miller bumped fists with fans draped over the first row of seats. And Vernon Davis flashed a megawatt smile, pointing playfully at the legion of fans chanting his name.
The San Francisco 49ers are getting ready for their new house of energy and emotion.
The team conducted its first training camp practice at Levi’s Stadium on Monday afternoon, getting familiar not only with its new home field, but also thousands of fans who flocked to the stadium for a public practice and then got an opportunity to mingle with players afterward.
An allotted total of 10,000 tickets were distributed for the practice through an internet lottery, and with fans cheering and a sound system blaring, the 49ers already were feeling right at home.
“As soon as I stepped foot out there, they were playing music, and I just got to dancing and everything,” wide receiver Quinton Patton said. “It felt pretty good.”
The 49ers have been practicing all summer next door at their team complex, watching the finishing touches being put on the $1.2 billion stadium that will replace Candlestick Park in San Francisco, where the team has played its home games since 1971.
They were eager to finally get action on the new field in advance of their preseason opener on Thursday against the Ravens in Baltimore. The 49ers christen Levi’s Stadium with their preseason opener against the Denver Broncos on Aug. 17.
“It was really the first experience that all of us got to step on the field, and I feel like we had fun with it, especially with the fans being there,” cornerback Chris Cook said. “They give you that little bit of extra energy that you don’t always have every day out there. Just to hear them cheering us motivates us, and it gives you a good feel of how it’s going to be.”
The 68,500-seat facility features HD 13 video boards on the north and south ends that each measure 200 feet by 48 feet, giving fans not only prime vantage points of the action, but also replays of the action.