The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ravens’ Justin Tucker attempted a field goal but fell into a sinkhole at Levi’s Stadium

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker did manage two successful field goals at the home of the 49ers. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

In the fourth quarter of the Ravens’ game Sunday at the 49ers, normally reliable kicker Justin Tucker missed a 45-yard field goal attempt. That loomed large in Baltimore’s 25-20 loss, but the miss was hardly Tucker’s fault.

Instead, the turf at Levi’s Stadium was to blame, as the kicker slipped while planting his leg. Actually, as replay showed, it wasn’t so much that Tucker slipped on the turf as that the field swallowed his left foot.

This was just the latest example of the huge problems San Francisco has had with the field in its $1.4 billion stadium, which opened in 2014. And this isn’t just an issue for the 49ers or their opponent in any given week, but for the entire NFL, because the stadium is set to host the next Super Bowl.

The last thing the league needs is for its championship game, a mega-event viewed by about 100 million people, to have a result decided or a player injured because the field is of poor quality. And yet the 49ers have so far been unable to get it right.

In August, the 49ers had to cancel practice because of the condition of the Levi’s Stadium field posed a danger to their players. At that time, the San Jose Mercury News quoted a team official as estimating that the field had been re-sodded at least five times at that point, a far more frequent rate than other NFL teams replace the turf on their fields.

[From 2014: The field at the 49ers’ new stadium is already failing]

Part of the problem is that, in order to defray some of the massive costs of the facility, many non-NFL events are held at Levi’s Stadium. But events don’t get any bigger than the Super Bowl, so the field will need to get into better shape, unless the NFL wants it to swallow up less embarrassing story lines.