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Earlier today, it was reported by Sports Business Daily that, according to sources, a 2018 matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams would take place in China. While it has been widely reported based on that initial report, Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News says that, according to his own source, the 49ers' involvement in a China-based Rams game is "a bit premature."
"The 49ers will play the Rams in a regular-season game in China in '18, according to sources. It will most likely serve as the Rams' home opener, although no date has been determined," said Don Muret of Sports Business Daily within the initial report.
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That's not to say that this matchup will not happen. While it has not stopped the NFL from doing so in the past with non-division matchups or even non-conference ones, it makes some sense to plan to have two divisional teams play each other in a game so far away from their home timezone. And making it the first game of the season, which Pro Football Talk could see happening, makes the travel scenarios even easier on those participating.
The Rams' participation in a China game is still likely. Bonsignore is just questioning the 49ers' involvement in that game. The Rams, who returned to Los Angeles this year and will play their home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, have agreed to give up one home game a season to play overseas over the next three seasons as their new stadium is being built in neighboring Inglewood.
"Since March, the Rams have been linked to a game in China in 2018, but this is the first time an opponent and target date have been mentioned," further explained Bonsignore in a Los Angeles Daily News article. "The report was characterized as 'premature' by a Rams source, and NFL spokesmen Brian McCarthy wrote in an email to the Southern California News Group that 'we have not announced the Rams' opponent in the event we play a game there. We have said we are exploring playing a game there but nothing is definitive.'"
Bonsignore is a Rams and NFL columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News as well as a Rams and NFL insider for Los Angeles' AM 570 Sports.