© Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
For years, it has been rumored that the 49ers and Rams would play a game in China. That prospect has resurfaced at this year’s owners meetings in Phoenix.
According to The Athletic‘s Matt Barrows, NFL owners will discuss the possibility of playing in either Beijing or Shanghai next season. The initial thought is that the 49ers play their 2020 opener overseas. That would mean the 49ers surrender a home game, instead of the Rams, who will open a new facility in the 2020 season.
From Barrows’ report:
As it stands now, according to team officials, the loose plan would be for the game to be played at the start of the 2020 season, perhaps to kick off the season in the same fashion as the A’s and Mariners recent Major League Baseball season-opening series in Tokyo.
Barrows said team officials have made trips to Beijing and Shanghai to scout the facilities. The region’s poor air quality could mean practicing in an indoor practice bubble throughout the week leading up to the game.
This is one way the NFL wants to market one if its most universally recognizable organizations, in a way other than highlighting the team on HBO’s Hard Knocks. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have long said they have no desire to appear on the show.
Lynch, according to Barrows, appears to be considering playing in China.
“As a football guy, you’re usually pretty protective,” Lynch said Monday. “Like, ‘Hey, let’s make sure this is good for our team.’ I think one thing we feel comfortable with is that (CEO) Jed (York) and (49ers president) Al (Guido) always keep that in mind, so we’re not going to do anything that’s going to put us at a disadvantage. But if we can grow the game and also have a cool experience we’ll make it work.”