By now, the turf at Levi’s Stadium has become its own punchline -– an evergreen (pun intended) laugh-getter along the lines of Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field and many of your finer tar pits, junkyard floors and Great America Parkway.
Oh, we could bore you with the company line on how they are growing vast fields of glorious grass that will turn into the fairways at Augusta National, but hey, that’s the team’s job. They pay media specialists and part-time agronomists to spread the good news that some day the field will last more than a few weeks before browning up into a gigantic tray of tater tots.
Us, we try to give you the fresh look, the less-traveled logic that will cause you to think, “Hey, I hadn’t considered that, and thank all the deities across the galaxy that you did it for me.”
And the fresh look this year is that the problem with the field isn’t as likely to be its threadbare browny consistency, but its ability to hold water more than the new phony argument about whether or not Frank Gore has ever been in a properly commanded huddle.
You may have heard that the winter is supposed to be dominated by an El Nino, the weather condition that brings Noah-era rain to our decidedly parched state. If so, hurray, since watching your pets collapse into dust heaps is kind of a downer for the kids.
But if El Noni is the badass it is predicted to be, the grass-resistant grounds will suddenly also have to deal with an entirely different issue.
The 49ers haven’t had a truly muddy field in decades. Even at its windy frigid worst, Candlestick Park was still mostly dry -- unless you stood under an overhang with a nearby restroom. And the new joint was sun-baked, but not rain-pelted.
It looks now, though, like rain will be in the forecast this fall and early winter, and here’s where the Heinz Field parallel comes in.
Heinz has played like a bog on more than one occasion, because Pittsburgh’s weather is obviously less clement than the South Bay’s. Teams came to hate playing there for more reasons than just the Steelers, and it took the franchise a good long while to figure out a solution to playing half its schedule on the field where the definitive battle in “Braveheart” was held.
Now take that rain and dump it onto the as-yet-substandard field on the plains of Santa Clara, and you’ve got yourself some seriously hilarious mess, friends.
Hilarious, you say? Well, okay. Maybe not hilarious for you, especially if you’re one of the poor sods whose seats aren’t protected by the stadium architecture. Maybe not hilarious if you’d like to see if Colin Kaepernick can finally achieve what he only hinted at when he made his seeming breakthrough in 2012. Maybe not hilarious if you don’t want to see what Jim Tomsula looks like soaking wet.
But definitely hilarious if you like chaos, and if you like Torrey Smith hydroplaning into the tunnel, and especially if you like Jed York looking forlorn and angry and desperately wanting to tweet something to the Faithful.
So while there will always be the agony of training camp and the legion of questions (HUDDLE COMMAND! WE WANT HUDDLE COMMAND!) that are coin of the realm in the mangy mutt days of August, there are few things that are not in a team’s command come September.
Except of course rain. Torrential, sideways, hail-infested, ankle-deep rain. The one thing the Pants Palace has not yet delivered to the customer.
Until this coming autumn, when Frank Gore will tell us that he never played on a good mud team in San Francisco.