SANTA CLARA — The 49ers can now discover if the grass indeed is greener away from Candlestick Park.
Levi’s Stadium hosts its first football game today, albeit a mere exhibition against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Forgive 49ers players if they don’t get caught up in the hoopla.
“We’ll still be between the lines. The stadium shouldn’t matter,” running back Frank Gore said.
“We’re on the field, so a field’s a field,” defensive tackle Justin Smith added.
“As players, we just get inside those white lines, wherever we play,” safety Antoine Bethea said.
Moving into a $1.3 billion stadium eventually will have its home-field perks. And surely there’ll be some quirks, aside from some traffic hassles.
Coach Jim Harbaugh wants his team to quickly “mark our territory” at the stadium located next to their longtime training facility.
“We’ve got to get used to the new stadium, new wind, new grass, everything,” Harbaugh said.
On the outside, the stadium resembles an iron skeleton, with only a few oversized posters covering its bones. On the inside, it’s like a red leather couch you’ve long sought for your living room and finally splurged to buy.
On the ground, the Bandera Bermuda grass was installed four months ago, so divots are sure to pop up until the roots get deeper. It’s tightly cropped like a country-club fairway and much firmer than Candlestick’s at-times spongy surface. Will it play faster? Harbaugh doesn’t think so. Gore doesn’t know quite what to expect, even though the 49ers have practiced on it twice.