Jarryd Hayne Makes 49ers’ Final Roster
The worst kept secret of this NFL preseason was finally confirmed today, with news that former National Rugby League MVP Jarryd Hayne – an Australian athlete with zero professional experience on the gridiron – has secured a spot on the San Francisco 49ers’ 53-man roster.
Hayne lit up the preseason with his highlight reel skills as a running back and return man. His unique running style – concerned just as much about running around people as running through them – turned heads in week 1, then turned more and more sceptics into believers as the rest of the trial games unfolded.
An excellent open-field runner, Hayne caught the attention of both the American and Australian media with his explosive gains, but it is the speed with which he has picked up the nuances of the game that should have 49ers fans excited.
Hayne’s ability to lower the shoulder, wait for lead blockers, carry the ball with his outside arm and run out of bounds where necessary are all contrary to his instincts as a rugby league veteran, but make no bones about it; Hayne is now a professional NFL player.
He is expected to see most of his on-field time as a return man in 2015, as the Niners are already quite deep at running back. Carlos Hyde, Mike Davis and the man who personally advocated for Hayne to pursue his NFL dream, Reggie Bush, are all ahead of him on the depth chart. Hayne is instead likely to split kick and punt return duties with depth wideouts Bruce Ellington (third string) and DeAndrew White (sixth string).
“It’s a tremendous achievement,” head coach Jim Tomsula told reporters, before adding, “He’s by no means a finished product. But the type of person he is and the approach he has taken; he’s the kind of player we want here.”
A polished veteran he isn’t, but don’t be surprised to see the Hayne Plane take off week 1 on national television.