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49ers, Jarryd Hayne mentioned in random New Zealand NFL games rumor

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This sounds kind of odd. I don't expect much to it, other than potentially some basic exhibition games, but it's something to keep on our radar the next couple days.

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The San Francisco 49ers showed up in a very random rumor over the weekend. The Sunday Star Times reported that two NFL games are set to be played in New Zealand "early next year", with 49ers rookie Jarryd Hayne touted as "one of the headline acts." The first couple paragraphs make it seem like a pair of teams in each game, but then things get weird enough to question if they know exactly what they are talking about.

The ground-breaking concept, which has been nearly four years in the making and is likely to be called the Southern Bowl, will involve six NFL franchises - including the Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals.

Initially I was thinking this would be something along the lines of the London series, but this would obviously indicate more of an exhibition type series. However, the timing of everything they mention is weird. They talk about "two high-profile coaches" selecting players based on those who are part of the final roster cuts. Of course, they refer to those cuts happening in late July. It's a basic factual error, but indicates some confusion about all this. The article says the coaches would potentially announce the teams in September.

Pro Football Talk contacted the NFL about this report, and the league seemed unaware of any of it.

But if games are going to be played with non-NFL players who didn't make the final cut to NFL rosters, it's news to the NFL. Per a league source, neither the NFL's international business operation nor the three teams mentioned in the story as the potential sources of player inventory for the games (the Cowboys, Cardinals, and 49ers) knew anything about it before the report emerged over the weekend.

The whole thing is just kind of odd. If Jarryd Hayne is part of the 49ers final roster cuts and is not claimed off waivers, he would likely be added to the team's practice squad. That puts him under contract, and would likely mean he would need permission to pursue outside football options.

The Sunday Star Times reported we would potentially hear more on Wednesday. I could see someone trying to organize something just to benefit from the small number of former rugby players involved in training camps. With Hayne being the most high profile this year, it makes sense they would include him on such a list for promotional purposes. I'm guessing however that he does not take part in such an event, other than maybe an appearance to shake hands and talk about the NFL.