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Lingering Smoke Pollution Leaves 49ers Season Opener Up in the Air

SANTA CLARA (KPIX) -- As smoke blankets the Bay Area, the 49ers plan to play football at Levi's Stadium even as a player didn't practice Friday because of the poor air quality.

Whether or not the San Francisco 49ers play this Sunday is up in the air thanks to the smoke-filled atmosphere but the team says it's a decision that's out of their hands.

The 49ers are preparing for their season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, something a lot of fans view with skepticism. Longtime Niners fans Rafael and Martha Velez say they just can't imagine them playing in air like this. But ask some of the players and they'll tell you, the bad air won't stop them from taking the first snap on Sunday.

"Everything has been weird in 2020 and everybody has to play up under it so we just have to go out there and execute and win," said 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan says a player with pre-existing conditions did not take part in the final practice of the week but he's hopeful that the team will play on Sunday.

"If it happens Sunday, my understanding is if it gets to 200, the NFL will start really discussing what it will do with the game. I don't think it's my decision at all, I know it's not. Thank goodness," Shanahan said.

According to Tina Sindher, an allergist at Stanford University, it's a big health risk to get on the field.

"They are out there and it's sustained activity, it's vigorous activity. Not just a little bit of activity. It's hours," Sindher said. She adds that there isn't a lot of data on how this much smoke impacts a person's health.

"Even in healthy individuals, exposure can lead to inflammation and we don't completely understand what that means long term," Sindher said.

Running back Tevin Coleman is the player with the pre-existing condition. Coach Shannan says it will be up to him to do what's best for his health on Sunday.

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