Jarryd Hayne’s impressive Debut for the San Francisco 49ers

Jarryd Hayne #38 of the San Francisco 49ers breaks the tackle attempt of Rahim Moore #26 of the Houston Texans in the first half at Reliant Arena at Reliant Park on August 15, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Aug. 14, 2015 - Source: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)

The 27-year old former Australian rugby league star impressed in his NFL debut for the San Francisco 49ers and showed that he can be equally good on the football gridiron. Playing as running back as well as returning punts and kick-offs Hayne made a strong claim for a place on San Francisco’s final 53-man roster.

With RB Reggie Bush and RB Kendall Hunter out of the lineup Jarryd Hayne got plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent. He rushed for 63 yards on 5 carries, including a run over 53 yards, and returned 2 punts for 24 yards as well as 1 kick-off for 33 yards.

Most importantly, Hayne demonstrated all the skills required to be a great running back in the league: Ball protection, agility, explosiveness, breakaway speed, change of direction, strength, good hands (returns) to name a few.

Jarryd Hayne was relieved and happy with his performance in San Francisco’s pre-season opener: “I wanted to go out there and look like an American NFL player and I feel like I did that,” he said.

QB Colin Kaepernick was full of praise for the Australian: “He went out there and played really well. He played fast, had a great run and had a couple of good punt returns, so I think everyone is impressed with what he’s done.”

Head coach Jim Tomsula was very positive about Hayne’s display but didn’t want to get carried away: “This was our first look at him in live action and we’re excited for him. Jarryd’s a professional athlete. He did some good things, but it’s the first pre-season game and we’ve got to grow from here.”

The 49ers seemed confident in the personnel they have at the running back position with RB Carlos Hyde (early downs) and Reggie Bush (pass catching) projected as starters and RB Kendall Hunter and rookie RB Mike Davis serving as their backups but Jarryd Hayne has made a very strong case for himself to become a part of the unit.

Regardless, Jarryd Hayne is on his way to becoming a national hero in Australia. He quickly trended on social media, predominantly Twitter, and the Australian media representatives needed to be reminded that there is a “no cheering in the press box” policy during NFL games.

By the way, the 49ers lost to the Houston Texans 23-10 which seemed to be secondary on Jarryd Hayne’s big day in the NFL.

Toronto Blue Jays keep winning

Josh Donaldson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his home run as he walks into the dugout in the first inning against the New York Yankees on August 9, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Aug. 8, 2015 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)

The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the New York Yankees 2-0 and closed the gap to the AL East division leader to 1.5 games. It was Toronto’s 8th consecutive win, including a 3-game series sweep over the Yankees.

3B Josh Donaldson’s home run in the 1st inning and RF Jose Bautista’s long ball in the 4th proved to be sufficient offense on Sunday afternoon. Donaldson ranks 3rd in the MLB with 31 homers so far this season.

New York’s SP Masahiro Tanaka (8-5) was surprisingly relieved after 6 innings and only 80 pitches. He surrendered 2 runs but didn’t issue any walks and threw 5 strikeouts.

Marco Estrada (10-6) threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings and lowered his ERA to 3.21. He did, however, hit a batter and walked another three but also had 6 strikeouts. Kansas City’s bullpen then held on to the lead by pitching 1 2/3 hitless innings and CL Roberto Osuna sealed the victory with his 10th save of the season.

The Blue Jays have a rest day today before facing the Oakland A’s (Tuesday to Thursday) and New York Yankees (Friday to Sunday) at home. After today’s rest day the Yankees play a 3-game series at the Cleveland Indians before heading to Rogers Centre.

Super Bowl XLIX Prediction: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick (R) and Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll attend a joint press conference prior to the upcoming Super Bowl XLIX on January 30, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (January 29, 2015, Source: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images North America)

In a few hours Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will kick off. The arguably best teams from the AFC and NFC will be battling it out for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The New England Patriots reached the NFL Final by winning the AFC East and beating the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. They won 5 of their last 6 games, including postseason, and only lost to the Buffalo Bills in week 17 which had no bearing on their top seeding in the playoffs.

The Seattle Seahawks got to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year by winning the NFC West and defeating the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers in the previous playoff rounds. Including postseason the Seahawks are on an 8-game winning streak.

Super Bowl 49 is most difficult to predict as both teams are pretty evenly matched. There are many reasons why the Patriots can win and there are just as many reasons why the Seahawks can come out victorious. But I have to pick a winner, right? Here is:

Why the New England Patriots will win

It is hard to stop Seattle’s RB Marshawn Lynch. The Patriots won’t be able to but they will not allow him to break away and gain a massive amount of yards. They will also be ready for a scrambling QB Russell Wilson.

New England’s defensive backs match up well with Seattle’s receivers. Wilson needs to be accurate or the turnover battle goes New England’s way real fast.

The Patriots will find ways to utilize TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman and WR Brandon LaFell efficiently.

RB LeGarrette Blount will be productive enough in the running game to keep New England’s offense two-dimensional throughout.

Two weeks is a very long time for HC Bill Belichick to come up with a great game plan. Expect the Patriots to be extremely well prepared. Who knows, they might even know the plays the Seahawks are going to call.

The Patriots are always at their best when the media – and everyone else for that matter– has a go at them. Expect “Deflate Gate” to be an additional motivational tool for the Patriots. They will come out with a vengeance.

Super Bowl Predictions from former NFL Players

49ers WR Tai Streets gets a lift from Derrick Deese after scoring a touchdown. (AP)

In the week leading to the Super Bowl I asked former NFL players to predict the outcome of the game and why they believe the New England Patriots or Seattle Seahawks will win. Here are their picks:

Terrence Metcalf (former guard with the Chicago Bears): "I'm going with the Seattle Seahawks this year. Russell Wilson made every mistake he could, yet he still found a way to beat The Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks have the best running back in the NFL in Marshawn Lynch. He has speed, power and great vision at the line of scrimmage. To an offensive lineman, that just adds gravy to the run game.

I believe New England, with Brady running the show will make plays on offense, but they're going to have problems with Seattle’s defense. With Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the defensive backfield the receivers for the Patriots will have problems. Micheal Bennett and Cliff Avril will get pressure on Brady. Bennett knows how to get skinny and plug the gaps in the run game as well as pass rush. So, let's Go Seahawks!!"

Derrick Deese (former left tackle and Super Bowl Champion with the San Francisco 49ers): “I'm gong with the Seattle Seahawks. They seem to have a team that just doesn't care about anything but each other. Nothing seems to get in the way on or off the field that stops them from reaching their goal. A young team but a young team that plays like a veteran team should play. Pete [Carroll] has done a great job with his staff and team.”

Jorge Diaz (former offensive lineman with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers): "I think we have a match up of two of the best teams in the NFL in this Super Bowl. We have two great quarterbacks, one looking to cement his legacy and another who is trying to create his own. When you look closer at these two teams there is one thing that stands out that clearly separates one from the other and that is Seattle's defense. They are battle tested against the league’s best and the job they have done on [Peyton] Manning, [Aaron] Rodgers , [Drew] Brees and [Tom] Brady in the past makes me believe that the reason why they will repeat as Super Bowl champions is because of that defense!"

Reggie Givens (former linebacker and special teams captain with the San Francisco 49ers): “The game is broken up into 3 phases: Offense, Defense and Special Teams.

Offensively, [Tom] Brady & [Russell] Wilson will cancel each other out. Brady will have more passing yards while Wilson and [Marshawn] Lynch will control the game with their legs.

Defensively, New England will keep the game close by allowing the Seahawks to mostly fields goals. However, Seattle will win this phase with better overall tackling, pressure on Brady and being the more physical team.

Special Teams will ultimately decide the game. The Patriots are not strong with their returns and tend to give up extra yards with the cover teams. Seattle has better tacklers and is solid in all areas.

Conclusion: Both teams are not going to light up the scoreboard but in the end Seattle’s Defense & Special Teams will prove to be too much for New England and Tom Brady to overcome.

Final Score: Seahawks 19 Patriots 13"

Evan Moore (former tight end with the Cleveland Browns): “The New England Patriots always seem to respond well when in the midst of controversy. Pats win 27-23.”

Willie Williams (former cornerback and Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers): “It's going to be a great football game. It's going to be interesting how New England handles the Deflate Gate issues. Seattle wins. Love the defense.”

Hillary Butler (former linebacker with the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos): “This year's easy! No Butler Bowl [Seattle vs Denver]. Seahawks all day. Defense wins championships! Last year's #1 defense is better this season. Look for [Tom} Brady to have his balls deflated, as we go back-to-back!

Tony Bouie (former safety with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers): “Seattle. After the collapse of Green Bay and the trouble the Patriots are in with "Deflate Gate", it looks like the Hawks are in for another Super Bowl win.”

Tom McManus (former linebacker with the Jacksonville Jaguars): "I hope the New England Patriots kick the c*** out of 'em [Seattle Seahawks]. Then they can tell all who said they were cheaters to kiss their a**. Patriots win 38-28."

NFL – AFC Championship Preview – Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes the ball during the first quarter of the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (January 9, 2015, Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)

The New England Patriots (13-4) reached the Conference Championship Game after a 35-31 win over the Baltimore Ravens in last week’s playoff game. The Patriots have won 4 of their last 5 games, including playoffs. Their only home loss this season came against the Buffalo Bills in week 17 in a more or less meaningless game.

The Indianapolis Colts (13-5) made it to the penultimate playoff round with two convincing wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and at the Denver Broncos. The Colts won 7 of their last 8 games, including playoffs and were 5-3 on the road in the regular season

Both teams met in week 11, with the New England Patriots winning 42-20 at Indianapolis.

Why the New England Patriots will win

Last week QB Tom Brady had to take matters into his own hands because of an early 14-point deficit. He will be tempted to test how healthy Indianapolis’ CB Greg Toler (groin) and CB Vontae Davis (knee) are but it’s the running game that will set up New England’s passing offense.

Indianapolis’ QB Andrew Luck will struggle unless he is extremely aware and accurate. New England’s pass defense will have the right answers.

New England’s run defense will be able to contain RB Dan “Boom” Herron and force Andrew Luck to win it for the Colts.

Essentially, New England’s receivers will be too much to handle for Indianapolis’ cornerbacks.