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Report: 49ers-Cardinals game expected to be played on schedule amidst poor air quality

The 49ers and Cardinals are scheduled to play on Sunday, but the Air Quality Index seems problematic for the time being. We break down what it could mean.

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General view of the interior of Levis Stadium from an elevated level at sunset during the NFL regular season football game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game day update: Adam Schefter is reporting the 49ers-Cardinals game remains on track for its regularly scheduled start time of 4:25 p.m. ET. He said the AQI is at 170, while other resources indicate it’s 160 or 141. It has to get to 200 to be canceled.

The San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to host the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET. However, the California fires are raising questions about the air quality index and whether or not the game might need to be relocated.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) for Santa Clara is currently listed at 158 on Friday morning, although Accuweather has it at 173 and a Bay Area news station has it at 164. The NFL operations manual says teams cannot play or practice outdoors if the AQI reaches 200.

IQAir is projecting an AQI of 217 on Sunday. However, the Bay Area news station has fresh air on the way for this weekend. That would clear out some of the smoke and potentially lower the AQI.

Given how quickly winds can change, this will be something to monitor into the weekend. The Cardinals are scheduled to travel up to Santa Clara on Saturday and so the NFL would likely try and make a decision by that day. It wouldn’t be ideal for the Cardinals to fly up and then fly back if the game were relocated to Arizona, but it’s a short enough flight that it could still be manageable.

It’s also worth noting IQAir projects Monday’s AQI to be around 80. This would give the league the option of pushing the game to Monday. The 49ers will have no fans for their Week 1 home game due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so a Monday game is probably on the table as an alternative.

Friday afternoon update: As of 11:25 a.m. PT, the AQI sits at 194.