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Keim: Cardinals, 49ers monitoring air quality due to California wildfires

San Francisco 49ers work out at Levi's Stadium during NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, Pool)

The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers are “full-go” readying to play their 2020 opener Sunday but are “closely” monitoring air quality as wildfires burn in California, according to Cardinals general manager Steve Keim.

“I had talks with the NFL this morning and I’ve also talked with (49ers GM) John Lynch at length just to get a pulse out there,” Keim told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Friday. “It’s a lot of moving parts to it.”

The Cardinals and 49ers are scheduled to kick off in Levi’s Stadium at 1:25 p.m. MST Sunday, and Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he does not know what the teams would do if the NFL ruled the air quality was too poor to play there and then.

“I think everybody, San Francisco and us, obviously have the players’ safety first and foremost,” he said Friday. “I’m sure discussions are going on right now to figure out best and safest option. I don’t know what that would be at this point but I’m sure they’ll come to a good place.”

According to AirNow.gov, the air quality index reading (AQI) at 12 p.m. Friday in Santa Clara, Calif., measured 216, which falls into the “very unhealthy” range and is the highest in the past month. The NFL will not allow practices or games to be played if the AQI hits 200 or higher.

The 49ers were still set to practice as the AQI reading at the practice site was below 200, the team told reporters.

The air quality is projected to fall below 100 for Saturday, according to AirNow.gov, though it is dependent on the fires and wind patterns. IQAir projects a much harsher outlook with AQI reaching 217 on Sunday.

AQI readings have spiked into the “unhealthy” range, above 150, twice in the past month, topping out at 166 on Aug. 19 before pushing the 200 mark Friday.

The 49ers moved practice on Aug. 21 when the AQI rose above 150 and there were fears that shifting winds could hit the practice facility. The team also excused two players from practice early that day due to medical concerns over the air quality, according to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner.

San Francisco practiced Wednesday with orange skies and falling ash around Northern California, and while 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said the views reminded him of scenes from the movie “Book of Eli,” the air quality was reading in the 60s.


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