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.