SANTA CLARA -- For the second time in less than a week, the 49ers on Monday ripped out the turf at Levi's Stadium -- part of an overhaul that the team hopes solves its playing field problems.

The Niners expect to start installing a brand-new field this weekend, and it may include a different type of grass more commonly used at other NFL stadiums. The field should be ready for the Sept. 6 soccer match between Chile and Mexico and the 49ers regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 14.

The thicker-cut field installed two days before Sunday's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers was meant as a temporary solution because the sod cannot generate the deep roots needed for long-term use.

Levi’s Stadium without turf, Aug. 25, 2014. (Emmanuel Lopez)
Levi's Stadium without turf, Aug. 25, 2014. (Emmanuel Lopez)

Now, team officials are also removing and making undisclosed "tweaks" to part of the sand base below the turf, and are ripping out the entire 2.5-acre playing surface, including the sidelines and the area behind the endzones, which had not previously been replaced.

It's unclear how much the new field will cost, though the original playing surface had a $1.4 million budget. The 49ers said for the first time Monday that the team will pay for the turf replacement, taking pressure off the public Santa Clara Stadium Authority, which funded the bulk of construction.

The playing surface issues began cropping up following the team's opening preseason game at Levi's Stadium, an Aug. 17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Three days later, coach Jim Harbaugh cut short a public practice at the stadium because players were tripping on field divots.


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On Thursday, the team and its sod supplier, West Coast Turf, took out the entire 100-yard field, and had the new, temporary playing surface installed by Friday. A high-school double-header scheduled for this Friday was canceled, with a new line-up of games scheduled for October.

The field largely held up Sunday, but some players griped about its condition.

"It wasn't great. It wasn't good at all," veteran Chargers linebacker Dwight Freeney said after the game, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Team representatives and consultants will spend the next few days deciding whether to stick with the Bandera Bermuda sod, a relatively new strain used only in California, or switch to a Tifway grass variety used by more NFL teams.

"We'll have a couple of weeks now where they can figure out exactly what they want to do, and I expect it to be even better when we come back for Chicago," kicker Phil Dawson said Sunday.

Staff writer Cam Inman contributed to this report. Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at Twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.