Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Silicon Valley Victory

The 49ers debut their new digs, and establish a new standard in the NFL. Plus, Blake Bortles makes things difficult in Jacksonville, a look inside the growing penalty problem and more notes from Week 2 of the preseason

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — There are two words for the 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium, which opened for football Sunday afternoon: imaginative and cool.

Imaginative, because the Niners, when they couldn’t get a deal done with the city of San Francisco for a new stadium eight years ago, decided they could do a couple of things. They could continue to fight to build a stadium in some inaccessible place near San Francisco where they didn’t want to be, or they could look elsewhere, to a place more accessible to the biggest city in the Bay Area, San Jose, and a place much closer to the mega-companies that had come to define the area. The site of this stadium is nine miles from Apple’s headquarters, 11 miles from Google, two miles from Intel, 10 miles from Facebook, four miles from Cisco and six miles from Yahoo. Levi’s Stadium is 45 miles south of Fisherman’s Wharf, but the world is changing—the world has changed—and so why mourn what isn’t?

Cool, because of these things:

  • The 38,000 square feet of solar panels produce enough energy to run the stadium for the 10 home 49er games each year.
  • On the roof of the stadium Sunday morning, 49ers CEO Jed York pointed out a few of the 16 types of indigenous vegetation on site. Sixteen? “For Joe Montana,’’ York said.
  • All of the water that services the bathrooms and irrigates the field is reclaimed and purified from previous uses.
  • There are light rail stops and bicycle racks just outside the stadium, You can ride your bike to the stadium from nearby San Jose neighborhoods, and my friend, San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy, said he plans to walk the four miles from his house to the stadium one time this season.
  • Peyton Manning and the Broncos spoiled the party with a 34-0 romp of the Niners in their new home. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Peyton Manning and the Broncos spoiled the party with a 34-0 romp of the Niners in their new home. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    There’s a hands-on 20,000-square-foot 49ers Museum that lives and breathes the history of the franchise. You walk in, and there’s a virtual Patrick Willis walking alongside you, so real that it’s eerie. You sit in the broadcast booth, and you can announce “The Catch,’’ and email yourself the clip. My favorite part: the re-creation of Bill Walsh’s office, realistic down to the exact paneling and drapes and desk and original film projector he used when hired by Eddie DeBartolo.

THE MMQB: Behind the statues inside the 49ers’ new stadium

  • The first local students to use the learning center in the museum, 50 fifth-graders from San Jose, will be bused in today. They’ll have already seen a couple of videos on the physics and mathematics of football, and be educated by interactive displays that emphasize science and technology.
  • Noted local chef Michael Mina had a side of Wagyu beef on the rotisserie Sunday morning, but in keeping with the Bay Area appetites, there are 26 vegan food stations dotting the concourses.
  • There’s a 210-linear-foot stat crawl inside the Fantasy Football lounge. Not my cup of tea, but when 31 million Americans play fantasy football, you figure a few of them would want the latest when they’re at the game.
  • Another not-my-thing thing, but I realize it’s important today: Levi’s Stadium has four times the high-speed wifi capacity of the NFL’s standard for 2015. In other words, 40,000 people could live-stream a movie over the Internet while watching a football game. What does that mean? Basically, you shouldn’t have any trouble with instant updates for your fantasy-football team on your smartphone here.  

Driving up to the stadium Sunday morning, I thought what a pity it was to not have football in one of my favorite cities in the world anymore. Then I realized that’s an old-man thing to say, and Candlestick was a dump in the truest sense of the word, and life goes on—comfortably, in what feels like a palace, a $1.2 billion venue that is just about paid for in a state that’s supposed to be impossible to create things like this.

The readout on the ribbon boards that surround the bowl of the stadium said this just before kickoff:

“Goodbye old cold foggy, soggy status quo stadium … Hello most technologically advanced fan experience on the planet.”

I’m not a stadium junkie, and I don’t tour many of them. So I don’t know if this is the future of stadiums. But walking around Levi’s Stadium on Sunday morning, I certainly thought it should be. And I thought how ridiculous it is that the Raiders are playing in the pit they’re playing in, trying to find a home somewhere, anywhere. The San Antonio Raiders? Puh-leeze. Better to relocate to Los Angeles, certainly, if Mark Davis isn’t greedy and he can find a rich financial partner (or buyer) and the city can figure a way to make the business of the NFL work. But here’s a factoid for you: Levi’s Stadium is closer to downtown Oakland than to downtown San Francisco. The smartest thing of all would be for the Niners and Raiders, old buddies that they are, to pull a Giants-Jets and share a venue. Why not?

Now, for the football.

FOOTBALL IN FERGUSON
Robert Klemko on a high school team trying to ready itself for the season in the midst of civic chaos. FULL STORY
There haven’t been many days in the Jim Harbaugh Era when Niners fans wouldn’t want me to bring up football, but this is one of them. The preseason is a bad precursor for truth, and it’s silly to make too much of a 34-0 loss in August. But San Francisco is a lesser run-defense team without defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey (torn biceps) and run-stuffing linebacker NaVorro Bowman (rehabbing from knee surgery). The Niners will be missing two of their three best defensive players—pass-rusher Aldon Smith (suspension) and Bowman—for at least the first four games of the season. That means the Niners will have to play Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, the stingy Cardinals and Chip Kelly’s Eagles, at least, with a wounded D. That puts pressure on Colin Kaepernick, who is capable of putting up 30 points regularly. But Kaepernick is going to get hit a lot, and when quarterbacks get hit a lot, they’re subject to injury, and the Niners’ backup passer situation is grim. Blaine Gabbert looks as bad as he ever did in Jacksonville, and he’s got a $2 million guaranteed deal to be an insurance policy, and Harbaugh said Sunday there’d be no cavalry on the way; the backup would be either Gabbert or Josh Johnson.

The 49ers are too good, and the coaching staff too smart, to have many days like Sunday in 2014. I wouldn’t worry, yet, if I were a Niners fan. I’d enjoy this era, and this stadium.

MMQB Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End

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282 comments
jefftoons
jefftoons

Onion Award winning Architecture, for the Ugliest Sports facility ever built.

Can we get some kind of telethon going, so we can raise another 100K so they can finish it?

JRoy_20
JRoy_20

With these practice squad increases across the league, this could be big for bubble players. I'm hoping to see rookie QB Brock Jensen of NDSU picked up somewhere and put on PS. His potential is something many people want to see in this league. The kid is a winner and has proved that. Also very talented and developed. He played in the FCS like Romo, but proved to win big against teams in the Big 12 (youtube NDSU/Kansas St final drive) Would really like to see him get a shot. 

JimVan
JimVan

Yep, new stadium and bigtime change to a losing team!

number18
number18

And Peyton taught a graduate level football course to the Kap led pansies.

yobogo
yobogo

How far away does a team have to move from their home city, before they are considered having officially moved? Shouldn't the 49ers be the Santa Clara 49ers now? Or if they had gone further, like if they made a stadium deal with Sacramento, would that be far enough to become the Sacramento 49ers?

porsche356
porsche356

Wonder if Blandino's boys will be calling the Cowgirls games like everyones elses

NicolasMartin
NicolasMartin

Pity the poor taxpayers who have to pay for bills for millionaires who play for billionaires.

rskins09
rskins09

 Watched about  three quarters of the Cleveland  - Redskins game @ Fed Ex last night  ....The number of penalties were overwhelming :  five, six plays in a row ...Knew the NFL official was going to rationalize it in this article ..The NFL  is going a little  bit overboard with these penalties  so far ..Hope they lighten up in Sept..  By the way,  Kirk Cousins  was the best QB on the field last night  .. He's better  than at least  ten starting QB's in the NFL and has been playing better than RGIII  this summer ...Everyone lambasted the Skins when they drafted Cousins in the fourth round ..  He was a steal  and hope the Skins don't trade him ..You gotta have a good back up QB in the NFL  nowadays ...Alfred Morris had a full load on last night and looks stronger than he did last year ... 

Hola
Hola

Why not change the name to Santa Clara or San Jose?  They are farther from San Francisco than the New York Jets and New York Giants. 

Michael206
Michael206

The Niners turned their back on a venerable stadium that produced five championships.  They left their home and family, moved to a new town, and are now cavorting with an empty-headed barely-legal bimbo in Santa Clara.  There will be consequences.

#CandlestickCurse

gbgentleman
gbgentleman

Levi stadium is very nice...good job SF, now just make your announcers go away and never return.  AT least tell them that Lambeau field is still the EXACT same stadium it was (answer to the oldest stadium trivia question they dismissed with arrogance).  It has a nice new facade and a new atrium, but it still has the same cold bleachers inside of the same structure.

gbgentleman
gbgentleman

Eli was in mid-season form as well.  He looked just as bad in mid-season last year as he does right now.

MarcSchenker
MarcSchenker

Gee, Peter, you didn't say anything about the parking and concession prices. Oh, I forgot, you work for a corporation.

MarcSchenker
MarcSchenker

Yeh, Manzil and if you're late again, you can be sure Peter King will scold you. Again.

mike202
mike202

I think Roger Goodell would be happiest if he could remove the defensive team from the field entirely.  This Peyton Manning rule to allow receivers to run into DBs and get a penalty on the DB is ridiculous.

ben.kizer
ben.kizer

I haven't watched much of the preseason, because I just don't care all that much about it, but the parts I have watched haven't impressed me much. I don't know about you, but the excessive flag throwing is ridiculous. It's going to grind games to a halt. Add that to instant replay reviews and you have football starting to tread baseball territory for length of games. I'm also not impressed with 40-39 or 28-27 scores. The "last one who has the football wins" type of ball with lackluster defense is just as boring, if not more boring, than a 10-3 defensive dog fight. The NFL's gradually elimination of defense and their trigger happy refs are going to cause the downfall of this giant. If things don't change, I agree with Mark Cuban that the NFL is going to be heading downhill.

terence1329
terence1329

Hey Peter, 

 Next time you're in NYC take the ferry over to Staten Island, and try our new brewery called Flagship. You wont 


be disappointed. If you can't make it... there are plenty of bars in the city carrying it now. Thanks!

MargoLane77
MargoLane77

Peyton Manning is usually the best man on the field in August, September, October, November, December .... but rarely in January or February. The Cult of Peyton is ageless.

ragnarsworld
ragnarsworld

Geez, Peter is a whiny wuss.  You're on a bus road trip and you stop for a motel?  Really?  Grow a pair.

DillonAustin
DillonAustin

I wont be shocked if by week 4 of the season the headline for MMQB is about how bad and unwatchable the NFL has become because of the defensive holding/ pass interference calls.


Mark my words a game is going to be lost within the last 2 minutes because of a call from the refs.


This will start to effect the NFL in 2 major ways. Fans will start to look at NFL referees as fixers of NFL games calling fouls in crucial moments.


Fans will stop gambling as much on the product that is NFL because it will start to feel less like gambling and more like a fix.


What I saw in the opening series between San Diego and Seattle tells me the NFL has a serious problem on their hands and games are no longer going to be decided by players and coaches but by last minute fouls called by the Refs.



Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

Man that's an ugly looking stadium....the only thing missing was an earthquake...YIKES!

peachcreekmedia
peachcreekmedia

The stadium isn't beautiful at all. Its just new. It has some of the features from other new venues like Target field without any of the character. The key point here is 10 games. The facility is USED 10 games but SEEN 365/25/7! At 1.2 bln can we not get a stadium that both beautiful used year round by many people AND has a great game day experience? I just don't see the difference between this stadium and any other new multi purpose stadium. 

vspoke
vspoke

@yobogo You mean like the New York Giants playing in New Jersey?


Mike26
Mike26

@rskins09 So Cousin's pile of you-know-what stunk less than everyone else's you-know-what?  

blynder
blynder

@mike202

They are still calling pick plays, so the offense doesn't quite have the free reign that some are talking about. ;)

MoeLarryAndJesus
MoeLarryAndJesus

@MargoLane77  Very true.  Peyton is the worst big game QB in the Best QB Ever discussion.  And it isn't even close.  Something about big games seems to make his Papa Johns clench up tight.

Go_Niners!
Go_Niners!

@DillonAustin Ease up there, chicken little.  Either the refs will back off after a few weeks or players will adjust and stop grabbing quite so much.  


And by the way, a ref can decide the game just as much with a non-call as with a call.  If a defender blatantly mauls a receiver, but the ref decides not to enforce the rule of the game and blow the whistle, that's just as much "deciding the game" as any penalty call.

Michael206
Michael206

@vspoke 

No intruding on my beautifully crafted narrative.

#CandlestickCurse

mike202
mike202

@Go_Niners!If you would have watched the series mentioned you would agree that none of the illegal contact penalties called were fouls under any definition.  they were good coverage with no hands past 5 yards.  


San Diego got jobbed by the officials and this from a Seahawk fan.

DillonAustin
DillonAustin

@Go_Niners! @DillonAustin

Yes that's correct, and since we're being fair, I absolutely hate the 49'ers. But in the Superbowl between the Ravens and 49'ers on the last play of the game was a clear pass interference on the Ravens which was not called.


You lost that game, a game in which the much overrated 49'ers never belonged. And then you had a chance to win it only to have it taken away because of a noncall.


The difference between a call and a noncall is what I'm talking about. A noncall is much easier to forget.


Chicken little? Ok buddy 

MarcSchenker
MarcSchenker

Uh, you're an astute observer of the cornerback/end relationship and how sometimes it can get tricky. Also, I imagine you're still upset about Obama beating Romney. Unfortunately, with the art of holding grudges comes the art of the inability to see things as they are so I'll help you here. Jimmy Smith. Michael Crabtree. Clean play. End of DillonAustin.

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