Bad grass? 49ers pulled off new field

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- What had been an unspoken but well-known secret among the San Francisco 49ers went public Wednesday afternoon -- the field conditions at the new $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium are not up to snuff.

About 45 minutes into a free public practice for fans, and after numerous slips on the grass, which was discolored near midfield and already had several new patches in place after Sunday's NFL exhibition debut, coach Jim Harbaugh curtly led his team off the field.

This after receiver Stevie Johnson took a tumble making a cut on an out pattern near the goal line and appearing to be shaken up. Earlier, rookie receiver Bruce Ellington tweaked his right ankle in a drill with cornerback Chris Culliver and fell to the grass before being looked at by a trainer. Ellington continued to practice.

Many of the thousands of fans in attendance were confused -- "That's it?" one yelled -- when the public address announcer proclaimed the practice over, though fans could gain free admission into the stadium's team museum. Besides, the practice, which was originally scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. PT, was moved up to 4:15.

Then, Harbaugh led his team out and onto the adjacent practice field to continue work, in private, at 5:12 p.m.

Thus far, there has been a San Jose Earthquakes soccer match and the 49ers-Broncos exhibition at Levi's Stadium, where the sod has apparently not yet taken root, and the 49ers play host to the San Diego Chargers this coming Sunday. Then there are two high school football games on Aug. 29 and an international soccer game between Mexico and Chile on Sept. 6 before the 49ers regular season home opener against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 14.

UPDATE: The team, through public relations director Bob Lange, apologized to fans a few hours later via Twitter for the abrupt end to the 49ers' final public practice.

Lange added that the field would be ready for Sunday's exhibition game against the Chargers.