The San Francisco 49ers definitely don't sound too excited about playing on the turf at MetLife Stadium for the second straight week on Sunday, but they're not going to have a choice, and that's because both the NFL and NFLPA have approved the playing surface after checking it out on Wednesday.
A league source told CBSSports.com's Jonathan Jones that the turf has been deemed "good to go" following an investigation by both the NFL and NFLPA. The league decided to investigate the playing surface after the 49ers sustained a rash of injuries at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
During their 31-13 win over the Jets, the 49ers saw several key players go down, including Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, Raheem Mostert and Solomon Thomas. Following the game against the Jets, one 49ers players (Arik Armstead) flat out blamed the "trash" turf for all of the team's injuries.
Although Armstead was blunt with his assessment, other members of the organization were more diplomatic. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan didn't directly blame the turf, but he did hint that he thought it might have been an issue.
"That's as many knee injuries and ankle stuff and people getting caught on the turf as I've even been a part of," Shanahan said after the game. "I know our players talked about it the entire game, just how sticky the turf was. Unfortunately it's a place we got to go back to next week."
This was a big issue for the 49ers since they're scheduled to play at MetLife Stadium for the second straight week as they'll be the visiting team against the Giants on Sunday.
The turf at MetLife Stadium was certified as playable by an independent field inspector on Sept. 12, just before the start of the 2020 NFL season. The turf at the stadium was just installed this offseason, which means the first game played on it came in Week 1 when the Giants hosted the Steelers.
So far, a total four teams have played on the surface and the 49ers are the only ones that have had an issue with it. Due to that fact, there was some speculation that maybe it was a team issue -- with the 49ers possibly wearing cleats that didn't mesh well with the surface -- and that's something that Shanahan was actually asked about this week.
"We'll look into everything this week, but you're talking about stuff gripping and stuff too much," the 49ers coach said Monday, via quotes distributed by the team. "I would think the only thing you could do is take off cleats, which isn't fun either. Hopefully we'll get something from the NFL that makes us feel better about that, but I know the players and our equipment guys will be looking at everything possible to help us with that turf."
Based on what 49ers players have said, new turf can be sticky, and since this was just the second game for the new surface, that's the likely explanation for why they had so any issues.
"It's always pretty tricky to play on [new turf] until it's nice and worn down and broken in," veteran offensive lineman Trent Williams said following the Jets game, via NBC Bay Area. "You never want to blame the injuries on that, but you kind of put your foot down in the ground in natural grass, it gives a little bit."
With the NFL now approving the surface, that means the 49ers are going to have to deal with the turf on Sunday whether they like it or not.