Jim Harbaugh must have come to the realization that Billy Cundiff is not a very good placekicking option, because this is how his press conference started.
Who’s going to be your kicker Saturday?
“[K] David Akers.”
“I feel like he gives us the best chance.”
We don’t know if Harbaugh ever truly considered swapping kickers, but Cundiff dutifully made a trip up to Candlestick Park to show his stuff in front of Brad Seely on Monday. We posted some of the Facebook photos from that afternoon, which led to a link from Pro Football Talk and The Stick’s grass growing into a nice little subplot for those who are tired of wondering about Justin Smith’s health.
All the turf talk led to this exchange during Wednesday’s Harbaugh presser:
The pictures at least from his time out there, the turf did not look very good. And the turf didn’t seem too good in your last game. Are you concerned about the Candlestick turf for this game?
“From what I’ve been told is new turf was put down three weeks ago. That comes from our general manager who says that, and says the field’s going to be in good shape.”
Did you think it was OK for the last game?
“I thought it was OK, yeah. It’s not like it is in September. Most grass fields tend to not be as lush in the winter months.”
So even Harbaugh admits that the turf at Candlestick falls short of Augusta (or even your local muni course) these days, and maybe that went into his decision to stick with Akers. Or maybe it was because Cundiff was lousy from in 2012 from beginning to end, or Cundiff’s crack about all the old stadiums in California.
If you’re curious as to how the oldest stadium in Northern California that’s still used for professional sports is looking these days, here are a couple photos someone passed along to me via the tips line. Both photos were taken around 3 pm on Wednesday (yesterday) afternoon. So besides the end zones getting a fresh coat of red playoff paint, this is probably how the field should look come Saturday evening.
Harbaugh is right, the grass isn’t all that lush. But it doesn’t look to be FedExField bad, by any means. The brown patches appear more likely to cause a cosmetic problems than anything that’s going to affect gameplay, especially since the weather forecast calls for dry conditions over the next week.
But doesn’t it seem a little strange that in a league where the coaches sleep about four hours a night and leave almost nothing to chance, there is so little attention to detail when it comes to the grass fields these teams play on? This particular field will be shown on TV for roughly three hours on Saturday night, and Fox’s cameras will be of the hi-def variety (although Fox does seem to have the blurriest broadcasts of the networks that carry NFL football, or in soap opera parlance “the most dream sequency”). Maybe the NFL thinks field maintenance is the job of San Francisco Parks and Rec, or they figure that if the helmets are shiny enough the viewing audience won’t notice. But it seems odd that the richest professional sports league would have the lowest standards when it comes to groundskeeping.
We’ve been running a question every day, and the people who comment (with a valid email address) are entered to win one of two 10-person pizza parties from Amici’s. Today’s question:
What (if anything) will you miss about Candlestick Park when the 49ers move to Santa Clara for the 2014 season?
Some people are sure to trash the place, and that’s fine. I’m attached through force of habit (attending dozens of Giants and 49ers games over the past 25 years), but I might miss seeing the place from the highway most of all. In Oakland you can see the Coliseum and Oracle from 880, and while driving on 101 I always glance over at The Stick, regardless of whether I’m driving north or south. It’s going to be a bummer after Candlestick is torn down and a bunch of cookie-cutter condos and/or office parks rise up in its place.
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