The temporary natural grass practice fields at UNLV remain softer than 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan would prefer, which is an issue with the NFL and not the school.
In fact, San Francisco’s players praised the Fertitta Football Complex facilities Wednesday at Hilton Lake Las Vegas.
“I feel like UNLV has a great facility,” 49ers linebacker Oren Burks said. “If I were in college, I wish I had a nice locker room like that. I don’t care about the field so much. We get out there, we’ve got to practice. At the end of the day, that’s what needs to happen.”
San Francisco is stationed at UNLV this week. Kansas City, the designated home team, is set up in the posh confines of the Raiders’ practice facility.
The $35 million Fertitta Football Complex opened at UNLV in 2020. The two-story, 73,000 square feet building features a weight room and several amenities such as a kitchen, hydrotherapy tubs and a lounge equipped with multiple televisions and gaming systems.
Defensive end Arik Armstead said he trained at UNLV the past two offseasons. He knew the complex was good.
“It’s a nice facility,” Armstead said.
The 49ers advance group visited UNLV last week and expressed concerns to the league about the grass practice fields it placed over the artificial turf at Fertitta Football Complex. UNLV was not involved with the installation of the grass.
Shanahan said Wednesday after the team’s first full practice the surface was still soft after Las Vegas was hit with three days of rain earlier in the week.
“We’re here, we’re practicing on it,” Shanahan said. “Everyone has their preferences. I wish things were better, but we’ll deal with it how it is.”
Bieniemy speaks to Chiefs
Former Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who spent this season with the Washington Commanders, visited with Kansas City before the team’s AFC championship game against the Ravens.
Bieniemy is without a job after the Commanders changed coaches this offseason. His recent presence with the Chiefs could open the door to a return.
“Came in, talked to our team before our last game. He talked with the offensive guys and hung out with us in our meetings,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “So I have had a chance to talk to him. He’s still up for a couple of jobs.”
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said Bieniemy’s visit had a positive effect.
“It’s always great to have EB in the building. Just being there, the energy that he brings, the mentality that he brings, you can feel,” Mahomes said. “He has that intensity, but you love it. He loves being there. He loves being a part of the team and being a part of that culture. So having him back in the building was really cool. Listening to him talk and his energy just got everybody. You can ask guys, but I think guys had a little bit of chill bumps.”
The Super Bowl used to have a one-week break leading up to the game. Shanahan can’t imagine having so little time to prepare with all the logistics involved.
“You don’t realize how many family members you have until you have to count out Super Bowl tickets,” Shanahan said. “And then, you never realized how many people like you until that Monday (after the conference championship game) when you have 500 texts saying they’ve never been to a Super Bowl, can you hook them up?”
The 49ers installed most of their game plan last week before traveling to Las Vegas. That allows them to soak up the atmosphere of Super Bowl week. They have two practices remaining after Wednesday’s workout at UNLV.
“That’s the most stressful thing for me is watching players go through that who have no idea you have to say no to your uncle,” Shanahan said. “That’s the biggest thing those first two or three days that is stressful.”
San Francisco tight end George Kittle (toe) and Armstead (knee/foot) were limited in Wednesday’s practice, which is an upgrade after neither practiced last week.
Cornerback Ambry Thomas (ankle) and Burks (shoulder) also were limited. Defensive tackle Kalia Davis (ankle) was a full participant after his practice window to return from injured reserve was opened two weeks ago.
Offensive tackle Trent Williams received his Wednesday rest day and did not practice.
Kansas City’s entire roster was available at practice except for left guard Joe Thuney, who missed the AFC title game with a pectoral injury. Reid said backup Nick Allegretti will likely start Sunday.
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