49ers already desperately trying to level the playing field ahead of Super Bowl LVIII

Super Bowl LVII featured disastrous field conditions. Now, the San Francisco 49ers are expressing concerns about their practice field ahead of Super Bowl LVIII.

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers / Jed Jacobsohn/GettyImages
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The San Francisco 49ers arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday in preparation for their upcoming matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.

Super Bowl teams typically arrive in the host city a week prior to the championship game due to media responsibilities during the NFL's Super Bowl Opening Night. While the festivities kick off on Monday, the two teams must continue preparations for their last game of the season.

The designated home team alternates between conferences each year, and the home team is allowed to practice at the local NFL team's facilities while the away team practices at the best college facility nearby. This year, the NFL designated the practice field at UNLV for the NFC representative and the Las Vegas Raiders facility for the AFC representative.

San Francisco undoubtedly got the short end of the stick, as the Raiders facility is much more accommodating than UNLV's Fertitta Football Complex. The NFL attempted to level the playing field and laid natural grass over UNLV's artificial turf, but that apparently only caused more issues.

The 49ers have expressed concerns about their Super Bowl practice field

The 49ers have expressed concerns about the practice field, according to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports. Members of San Francisco's equipment staff and grounds team traveled to Las Vegas to check the facilities after the NFL laid the natural grass, and they believed the UNLV surface wasn't firm enough.

San Francisco is now looking into alternative options. The team could bring in a firmer sod and hope it resolves the issue in time for their practice, but that would be risky. They could also negotiate with the NFL to practice at the Raiders facility alongside the Chiefs. There have reportedly been discussions that would allow the 49ers to practice at the Raiders' facilities when the Chiefs aren't there, but it's more likely that they will remain at UNLV.

The issue is simply about preference and poses no safety risks. The surface reportedly meets all NFL, NFL Players Association and independent standards.

While it's easy for fans to mock San Francisco for making a big deal about the practice field, the NFL's playing surfaces have been a polarizing topic for years. In last year's Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chiefs both struggled with footing on the ill-prepared surface inside State Farm Stadium. Philadelphia's league-leading pass rush didn't sack Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes once in the entire game.

Following the game, NFL groundskeeper George Toma criticized Ed Mangan, the NFL field director who was in charge of the Super Bowl field.

"So, what [Mangan] does, he waters the hell out of it and puts it right into the stadium, and that's it," Toma told ESPN. "Never sees sunlight again. He can't do that."

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas has a similar tray system to Arizona's stadium. The NFL acknowledged that they are aware of the criticisms.

"We have brought in a brand-new natural grass surface that is currently installed in the field tray outside Allegiant Stadium," NFL EVP Peter O'Reilly said recently. "That has been in for a little bit now and is working through all our standard testing procedures that will take place over the time from installation up through the day before and that Saturday right before the game. Those adjustments and a core maintenance program are in place so we have an optimal field on game day."

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