Every NFL team had the opportunity to claim recently released rookie RB Jarryd Hayne off waivers and all 31 NFL teams declined. As a result, the Australian Rugby League star has returned to the Bay Area, as the San Francisco 49ers announced he was added to the team’s practice squad.
Hayne, who burst onto the scene with his elusiveness and big-play ability during the preseason quickly became expendable as his fumbling issues didn’t go away during the regular season.
Signed to @49ers practice squad.
— jarryd hayne (@JarrydHayne) November 3, 2015
However, that’s not to say that Hayne wasn’t the team’s most electrifying player throughout the year, as his rare combination of speed, power, and agility have easily made him a household name among the Forever Faithful.
Now, that Hayne is back in the mix, the time is now to see how far along he’s come along as an NFL player.
Let’s be real. The 49ers playoff chances are all but gone, leaving me to believe that the time is now to give Hayne the opportunity to shine despite his fumblitis. One or two fumbles by Hayne is not going to cost the 49ers the season unlike WR Kyle Williams did in the 2012 NFC Championship Game. There is little to lose in a bleak season, which is why the time is now to have him work through it.
We all can see Hayne’s potential. He has great lateral quickness, vision, and speed to make defenders miss in open space. But what he needs to work on as a running back includes pass protection, playing with a lower pad level, and body/ball/boundary to help with his fumbling.
If the 49ers are truly trying to see what type of players they have moving forward — the time is now to play Hayne especially since their top three running backs; RB Carlos Hyde (foot stress fracture), RB Reggie Bush (MCL), and RB Mike Davis (fractured hand) will likely all miss the remainder of the 2015 season due to their respective injuries.
Remember when 49ers special-teams coach Thomas McGaughey was asked during the preseason whether or not he wanted to see Hayne field a punt that sailed over his head? A punt in which the Forever Faithful witnessed a Willie Mays-esque over-the-shoulder catch against the hated rival Dallas Cowboys? Coach T-Mac easily responded saying they wanted to see what the kid could do and gave Hayne the green light since it was only the preseason.
Well that’s the kind of approach they need to take now, as they have clearly waved the white flag on the season, as they benched QB Colin Kaepernick, traded away TE Vernon Davis, while losing their top three running backs to injuries as stated above.
Simply put, the stars are aligned perfectly for Hayne to get his shot, so what do the 49ers have to lose? Nothing. A season that is all but lost, it’s time to turn the page while continuing to evaluate the younger players like Hayne, so they can have a better idea of what they have moving forward.
In six games this season, Hayne has rushed eight times for 25 yards while fielding eight punts for 76 yards.