The San Francisco 49ers will practice at their facility this week as if there’s a game this weekend. But instead of heading to the stadium on Sunday, they’ll hop on a plane to Las Vegas.
Where do they go from there? How will they spend the week? What will the end zones look like on game day? Here are 10 details about their stay over in Las Ve… er, Henderson … including the big game on Feb. 11.
1. Which jerseys will the 49ers wear?
The 49ers will be in their white jerseys, and before you ask — no, they will not be wearing their all-white attire.
The NFL owners voted to prohibit teams from wearing alternate uniforms in the postseason because their sponsor and retail sponsors would be affected by the switch.
That means that aside from this year’s Super Bowl patch (see below), the 49ers and Kansas Chiefs will look exactly like they did when they played in Miami four years ago. The 49ers are 2-1 in Super Bowls while wearing white with their loss, of course, coming against the Chiefs. Kansas City is 2-1 in red. They fell 31-9 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV in those uniforms.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 31, 2024
2. Where will the 49ers stay?
No, there won’t be any tiger-in-the-suite scenarios at Caesars Palace. The 49ers aren’t staying there or any other spot on the strip. Instead, they’ll be about a half hour to the east at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev. The Chiefs will be about a mile away at the Westin Lake Las Vegas.
The general location will be familiar to the 49ers. They stayed in Henderson during their joint practices with the Las Vegas Raiders in August and were at the Westin when they played the Raiders in Week 17 last season.
3. Where will the teams practice?
While the Chiefs will set up at the Raiders facility in Henderson, the 49ers will practice at UNLV, which is 16 miles away from their team hotel. The Rebels have a pair of artificial surface practice fields, but Nick Bosa, George Kittle and the team’s other grass devotees should have no fear — the league began rolling natural grass over those fields last week.
The 49ers will work out of the school’s state-of-the-art Fertitta Football Complex, which opened in 2019 and which boasts, among other amenities, a 9,000-square-foot weight room and a barber shop.
One perk the Chiefs will have that the 49ers won’t is an indoor facility. The forecast calls for rain in Las Vegas early next week.
Kyle Shanahan stands the test of time, Brock Purdy’s permanence, and other 49ers evidence
4. What will the game-day surface be like?
It ought to be very familiar to the 49ers. The Super Bowl grass at Allegiant Stadium was grown at West Coast Turf outside of Modesto, Calif.
The 49ers also use West Coast Turf at Levi’s Stadium. In fact, they have nearly a million square feet of Bermuda grass growing there right now considering that Levi’s requires a few re-soddings per season and the stadium also will host the World Cup in 2026. Groundskeeper Matt Greiner makes the four-hour round-trip drive to the farm roughly every two weeks during the season to check on the grass.
The conditions might not be exactly the same as Levi’s Stadium considering the Super Bowl will be played indoors. But the footing should feel natural — almost like home — to the 49ers.
5. Where will the 49ers be situated on game day?
The 49ers are designated as the visiting team and will use Allegiant Stadium’s visiting locker room. Presumably, they also will be on the normal visitor’s sideline, which is on the southeast side of the stadium.
The 49ers played 4 1/2 quarters there on Jan. 1, 2023, beating the Raiders in overtime on a 23-yard Robbie Gould field goal. The players who didn’t start that game who are expected to start in the Super Bowl: offensive linemen Colton McKivitz and Jon Feliciano; defensive linemen Chase Young and Javon Hargrave; cornerback Ambry Thomas or linebacker Oren Burks; and safety Ji’Ayir Brown.
Brown and fellow rookie Jake Moody played extensively in the preseason game in Las Vegas. Moody was 0 for 2 on field goals.
This year’s Super Bowl is indoors. What does that mean for the outcome?
6. Just how crazy are the team’s media obligations?
The 49ers are getting some of it out of the way this week — for example, sit-down interviews with studio talent, green-screen captures and photo shoots.
The biggest Super Bowl week media event, which the NFL calls Opening Night, will be held Monday evening at Allegiant Stadium. On Tuesday, Kyle Shanahan and 10 players, including Brock Purdy, will be available for 50 minutes at the team hotel. The full squad, including assistant coaches, will have media availability on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for an hour and 15 minutes.
The 49ers will practice on Thursday and Friday this week in Santa Clara and install their game plan for the Super Bowl during those sessions. Shanahan said there will be room for tweaks and adjustments during practices in Nevada, but the bulk of the preparation will be done before the team leaves the Bay Area on Sunday.
7. Who gets tickets?
Shanahan also wanted ticket requests out of the way before the team began its week of preparation. Players are allotted two tickets for family and can go through the NFL to purchase more. The team and league also will help arrange accommodations and travel for family members, and the 49ers have several charter flights heading to Las Vegas.
Shanahan — who’s been both a Super Bowl head coach as well as a family member needing tickets — said most of that was handled Monday afternoon “because that can be extremely hectic if you don’t handle your business” early on.
8. The game’s referee is familiar — and perhaps controversial
The referee for the big game will be Bill Viniovich, who also was the referee for the 49ers-Chiefs matchup four years ago.
That game had a pair of controversial calls — an offensive pass interference penalty against Kittle at the end of the first half and a non-call on Patrick Mahomes’ deep ball completion to Tyreek Hill on third-and-15 late in the game. Bosa appeared to be held on the play.
— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) February 3, 2020
Vinovich’s crew called five penalties for 45 yards against the 49ers and four for 24 yards against the Chiefs. It’s worth noting that he’ll have an almost entirely different crew in Las Vegas. The only other official from the game in Miami is replay official Michael Chase.
Vinovich, 62, also served as the official in the 49ers’ Christmas night loss to the Baltimore Ravens in which the 49ers were flagged 10 times for 102 yards. Their only contest with more penalty yards in 2023 was their Week 6 loss in Cleveland when they had 105 yards of infractions.
9. How much will the players earn and who gets paid?
Purdy earned $870,000 in 2023, which is slightly less than Mahomes, who took home $59.4 million.
Purdy and his teammates can continue to pad their pocketbooks with a win. The 49ers already have earned an extra $169,000 in the playoffs and could get another $164,000 if they beat the Chiefs. That’s $333,000 in total or 38 percent of Purdy’s salary.
- Wild card (including bye): $45,500
- Divisional: $50,500
- Conference: $73,000
- Super Bowl winner: $164,000
- Super Bowl loser: $89,000
Players on injured reserve, for example, Talanoa Hufanga, get the full amount. Those who spent a portion of the season with the team, for example, cornerback Anthony Brown, get half of the bonus pay. Brown played three snaps on special teams before he was released on Oct. 31.
10. What will the end zones look like?
There’s good news for Saloon-font fans: The NFL will use that font in the 49ers’ end zone, though it will look slightly different than the playoff end zones at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers will have a red background with “49ers” in gold in the Saloon-font style. The end zone also will include the 49ers’ regular oval logo. The end zones for the divisional and conference playoff games didn’t have the oval logo and included both the NFL shield and a blue “N” for the National Football Conference. Neither end zone in Las Vegas will include a conference or NFL logo.
(Top photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)