The former rugger’s preseason performance earned him a spot on San Francisco’s 53-man roster as a punt returner and reserve running back.
However, after struggling in the return game early on Hayne was cut and signed to the practice squad in early November.
But the dual-sport athlete continued to work at his craft and earned his way back to the active roster late in the season, and even made his first-career start at running back last weekend against the Detroit Lions. Hayne tallied 47 yards from scrimmage on 14 touches in the 32-17 loss.
All in all, as Hayne enters his final week his rookie season, the rugger is extremely satisfied with his first year on the gridiron and looking forward to what’s to come.
“There’s a whole bunch of things I’ve improved on, and over time, I’m going to get better,” Hayne said, via 49ers.com. “I’m excited for the future, because I’m still learning and still developing.
“I had never played the game before. There was always going to be something here that I didn’t expect. And it’s been a whole bunch of things that I’ve learned, had fun with and it’s been a great adventure.”
Hayne’s efforts this season have impressed much of the San Francisco coaching staff, from head coach Jim Tomsula, to offensive coordinator Geep Chryst and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, Jr.
“For Jarryd, who didn’t play college football or high school football, to come in and play at the top level, it’s really quite a remarkable story,” Chryst said. “But Jarryd is an elite athlete, and he wants to touch the ball. He doesn’t back away or have to ease into the game; he’s excited to be out there making plays.”
After Sunday’s finale against the St. Louis Rams, which the former Parramatta Ells rugger figures to be an impact out of the backfield once again, Hayne plans to head back home to Australia for the offseason where he’ll finally get to take a breather before restarting his training for the 2016 season. A year where expectations will be raised for the dual-sport athlete.
“He’s got a great upside,” Chryst said. “He can run, he’s big and he’s hard to block. As he works on fielding punts, he’s going to be a really exciting player to watch moving forward.”
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