Did Jarryd Hayne's performance on Saturday secure him a roster spot as a running back? The short answer: no. Despite tearing off a 53-yard run and holding his own in pass protection, Hayne's contributions as a running back won't keep him on the 53-man roster—not with Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush, Kendal Hunter, and fourth-round pick Mike Davis in front of him.
But his contributions as a returner might.
Yes, it's preseason. Yes, it's that time when backups strut their stuff and coaches resort to vanilla play calls. So it's really too early to make predictions, right? But common-sense be damned, let's talk predictions.
In his first NFL game, Hayne displayed a combination of swagger, confidence, and big-play ability that the Niners have been lacking from their return specialists since the departure of speedster Ted Ginn Jr. Hayne's stats may not be eye popping—two punt returns of 11 and 13 yards, along with a 33 yard kick return—but for those who tuned into Saturday's game, you saw a certain kind of poise and confidence that speaks to Hayne's second nature in fielding the ball.
For starters, calling a fair catch apparently isn't in Hayne's blood, even with defenders striding down field unobstructed, less than five yards away from a jarring collision. The most impressive aspect of Hayne's game on Saturday was how he responded to the opposition—calmly securing the football, dodging his would be tackler with a flash of subtle elusiveness, and then muscling his way forward with a combination of burst, balance and physicality.
What we learned is that Hayne's natural athleticism and toughness does translate to the NFL (especially those lovely stiff arms). And in a year where the 49ers have so many unknowns, locking down a player who can help in the game of field position is certainly a valuable commodity. If Hayne can capitalize on this momentum as returner and continue to prove his value elsewhere, he might just be able to elbow his way onto the 49ers final roster.
What remains to be seen is if other 49ers players, such as second-year receiver Bruce Ellington or the seasoned Reggie Bush, can match or outperform Hayne on special teams. Even with a solid debut, Hayne faces an uphill battle.
So what are your two-cents? Does Hayne make the final cut? Do the 49ers carry five running backs this year? Post your predictions below.
Date: August 24, 2015 at 3:41 PM
Comment: Hey Click Bait, put down the crack pipe! This guy has the straight line speed and power of Bo Jackson or Earl Campbell. 3rrd and 1, 4th and 1, guess who gets the ball? Better yet, the play-action fake will take on a whole new significance in SF.
Date: August 24, 2015 at 3:08 PM
Comment: Some US fans, are struggling with this realitve
new- commer to "American Football" and rightly so. J.Hayne more than anyone else knows this. He wants to back himself so regardless of what we all think, it all comes down to walking the walk, talking the talk and playing the game. When he makes good on his ability, it won't come as any surprise to us here down under. When you eventually see you to will be converted. LxR
Date: August 24, 2015 at 2:11 PM
Comment: someone on the cowboys fan blog asked if they should make a play for Jarryd. Another bloke replied "If SF trades Hayne, the fan base will march on 49er HQ with pitchforks, tar and ropes. He might be the only thing worthwhile this year."
By: ricky riola
Date: August 24, 2015 at 1:28 PM
Comment: with more experience he runs like ricky waters & little roger crage. if hayne is let go the niners will regret it.
By: Darrell G
Date: August 24, 2015 at 6:30 AM
Comment: As you previously noted, the article is a bit mistitled. After that, your points are bang on. If he remains consistent on ST, I don't see how the 9ers let him hit the waiver wire.
By: shep from Aus
Date: August 24, 2015 at 3:38 AM
Comment: Big decision for the 49ers selection team I imagine. He would appear to have achieved a lot in 6 months, another 6 months may be incredible, but we live in the here and now. He knows his window to get in the NFL is short, so if SF say no, he would have to look at other offers, and after what we have seen, surley smaller teams would give him a chance ... so I guess the question SF may have to ask it self is , ' do we want him playing for us .. or against us ?'. Either way he is doing himself proud ... 9ers forever (lifetime Eels and 49ers fan in heaven :))
By: Chuk in Oz
Date: August 24, 2015 at 3:08 AM
Comment: You are all just getting a glimpse of the Hayne that we know - from what I have seen so far it will only be a short time before you see his first full-field touch down. I mean end to end. This human is a freak of epic proportions. Just wait and see. You heard it here first my US buddies.
By: Joe Australia
Date: August 24, 2015 at 12:36 AM
Comment: credit has to go to 49ers coaching staff and the playing group for the gamble you can't help but be happy for Jarryd what's funny is he's got another gear or two might sound crazy but watching play NFL.he looks like he's holding back. Can't wait to see him express him self.when you hear superstar rugby league player 2 x mvp you think wow that's in a team that he carried for years only his loyalty to parramatta held him back he could have gone to bigger NRL clubs where he would have had more success.cant wait for next week can't believe I've just heard NFL commentators blurting out Vegemite and shrimp on the barbie lines very funny go Jarryd go 49ers love that big defence .
Date: August 23, 2015 at 11:09 PM
Comment: LOL how good was that. To our American friends I hope you like what you saw today coz Haynesy is just warmin up. Remember this, second game ever playin American footy. Trust me, he will onlyget better
By: Joe from Australia
Date: August 23, 2015 at 8:34 PM
Comment: do the Cowboys matter or was that the 49ers getting pumped up for a big season who's that guy from Australia what's that you say he's only played 2 games in the NFL.well pickle me grandma . Great performance 49ers .
Date: August 23, 2015 at 5:35 PM
Comment: I sure hope you're not a betting man, because after tonight's first half performance, I don't see how he isn't our primary special teams ace. The first two punt returns have been as electrifying I've seen out a 49er player in a decade. The third one was a thing of beauty as well. I'd say you need to lighten up on the Aussie Hate Shades.
By: Joe Australia
Date: August 23, 2015 at 4:14 PM
Comment: again it's ronbo sports on you tube for fellow Aussies looking for real opinions and a cool intro to the 49ers
By: Joe Australia
Date: August 23, 2015 at 3:54 PM
Comment: good luck tonight 49ers . Just a quick one for joe Lambo flash in the pan my arse mate leave the coaching to the coaches be a fan get behind your team and the coaching staff. I agree he might not be an out and out rb just yet but the coaches didn't sign him up to peel oranges.for any one in Aus who want to know what real 49ers fans think check out ronbo on you tube.
Date: August 23, 2015 at 7:17 AM
Comment: The guy has more all round talent than single skilled NFL players it seems. Give him a crack mate!
By: Joe Lambo
Date: August 22, 2015 at 10:13 AM
Comment: I absolutely agree! He will NOT make anyone's 53 man roster. His skills as a RB, inside or outside, are non-existent. It takes years of practice to develop the technique as a RB in American Football. By the time he gains this experience he will be in his mid-30's! His return skills are just a flash in the pan. Teams will know how to approach him and his hesitancy in calling a fair catch will be his doom. One good hit and it's lights out brah!
Date: August 21, 2015 at 2:55 AM
Comment: Looking forward to the day when he fields a kick at the back and runs the full length of the field without a hand laid on him. It will happen.
Date: August 20, 2015 at 11:02 PM
Comment: 49ers would be crazy not to sign him from marketing alone. Sign Hayne 49ers get a couple of million Australian supporters. NFL should be encouraging 49ers for the growth of the game.
By: Joe Australia
Date: August 20, 2015 at 8:53 AM
Comment: Warning 49er fans the Hayne plane has landed good start but wait till he gets more game time NRL is physical fast hard hitting just like NFL Jarryd Hayne will shine and lift all around him I have no doubt this is just the beginning the kid doesn't quit strap in 49ers enjoy the ride
By: Jered M
Date: August 18, 2015 at 1:58 PM
Comment: He will beat out. Davis,and Bush IMO,Hyde,Hunter,Hayne,and then the rest.
Date: August 18, 2015 at 6:31 AM
Comment: I have not missed a Game Hayne has played in League & have followed NFL close since 87. I have no doubt NFL suits Hayne more than League so strap yourself in for the most excitement the 49's has seen in offense in decades. Let us hope it is for the 49's he plays for!
By: Johnny O
Date: August 17, 2015 at 11:23 AM
Comment: Yes...after 10 years of not having anyone who can return punts and kicks his guy looks like he can and without fear! That's what you need.
Date: August 17, 2015 at 10:34 AM
That is my point exactly !
Date: August 17, 2015 at 7:38 AM
Comment: Are you kidding? I take this guy over Bruce Miller in a heartbeat for a roster position, and why is Miller even still on this team? I guarantee you with the way he explodes through the line there is a roster spot for him immediately. Call him a fullback - what ever - just give him the rock.
Date: August 17, 2015 at 7:18 AM
Comment: Hyde is un proven, really he hasn't shown dominance by speling Gore last season, Hunter hasn't played in 2 yrs, and who is to say that Davis will be better than Hayne. The niners need all the help they can get on offense I think Hayne could help big time also his running style would be helpful as a fullback. Besides Miller who else has proven at fullback?
By: Harry Elias
Date: August 16, 2015 at 6:43 PM
Comment: If management is dumb enough to let Hayne go, especially for the peanut sized salary he's getting, then that would tell me that management needs to go. He was the biggest highlight the offense showed. He will only get better with time. This is a no brainer!!
Date: August 16, 2015 at 6:36 PM
Comment: One game, perhaps he caught a flyer but unless he starts fumbling or gets injured I don't see how you can cut him. Let's see what happens in game two..
By: keith Robberding
Date: August 16, 2015 at 6:25 PM
Comment: I predicted from the beginning that Haynes natural ability to have great vision, make tacklers miss, set up opponents to miss using his vision and years of experience make him uniquely qualified to contribute from the beginning. Right now he appears to be the best natural return guy the 49ers have. His running ability shows more than a little promise right now, aussie aussie aussie, oi oi oi
By: Roxie's Kitchen
Date: August 16, 2015 at 5:35 PM
Comment: Yes, they should find a way to keep him.
By: John boyke
Date: August 16, 2015 at 4:54 PM
Comment: If he can hold his own and do what needs to be done on special teams then yes I think he should make the 53 man roster! We have loss a lot of key players this off season to retirement and legal troubles! I personally think we should have done more to try and keep those that retired early from the NINERS but the physical and mental mind set was not our decision it was the players! This yr was in my mind was the NFL History Maker year but not everyone gets there wish!
By: Lucky Phil
Date: August 16, 2015 at 4:50 PM
Comment: My hope is Jed York gets cut. From the left ear to the right
Date: August 16, 2015 at 4:30 PM
Comment: Dude, shouldn't the title of your article represent the content? The title says Hayne still wont make the roster, but then you say that indeed he might just be able to make the roster. The title is an embarrassment in respect to professional journalism IMO.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 4:05 PM
Comment: Not only the poise by the vision when he's running with the ball that can't be taught. A 220 lb running back with "boom" play potential. Doesn't have break away speed but has enough of the "it" factor to be a game changer. Last night was a small sample but he did everything we would ask a vet player do do and this was his FIRST game of organized football. Sure rugby is similar but when in rugby did he have to pick up a blitzing linebacker? There are other rookies in the league who have played the game for years who are struggling with this and he's already doing it. Plus he's a grown man and we don't have to worry about maturity issues. The simple fact is everything about him says "yes" right now. There is no way he doesn't make the team.
By: Mike Smith
Date: August 16, 2015 at 3:24 PM
Comment: If he keeps running straight up he will eventually get destroyed.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 3:07 PM
Comment: wow, my typos were off the hook. Sorry...I was writing fast and furious lol
Date: August 16, 2015 at 3:07 PM
Comment: If Hayne continues to shine in the preseason I can see a scenerio where Hunter could be released or used in a trade.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 2:59 PM
Comment: We had 2 running backs last year because of injuries and retirements. Lets not be foolish again, luckily we had Frank Gore who is hands down one of the greats. However, Hyde, looks special, plays special but big guys get hurt, Kendall Hunter...is he a long term solution? He shows flash of greatness but he has never shown me as a fan that he is a fulltime running back, Reggie Bush, is more injury prone than Darren McFadden and Davis eventually be our #2. So yes, keep 5 running backs and remember Hayne can also tackle. His upside is greater than Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter. So he can return kicks and get down field and develop as a backup running back. He's worth the gamble. Cut the 2nd string fullback Trey Millard and we only need 3 or 4 Tight Ends for crying out loud so trade McDonald, he was a waste of a 2nd round pick and we might as well get a 5th rounder or something him. If this team is going to improve, it needs to get some value for the areas on the team where we are stacked, send a few guys out in trades, maybe find another quality cornerback and a pass rusher instead of EIGHT Tight Ends. Come on...Eight Tight Ends? are we frickin serious?
Date: August 16, 2015 at 2:23 PM
Comment: I really think that he outplayed Mike Davis(as much as I like Davis skillsets) last night! Haynes brings lots of athleticism qualities on the table especially for someone that has not played American football until now. You can just tell he has natural physical abilities that are hard to find. He will definitely make the team n be the fourth running back on the active roster(he might even challenge Hunter for the 3 spot). He has a HUGE upside n will be a great player in years to come!
Date: August 16, 2015 at 2:20 PM
Comment: This guys a beast. Hes shown in one year more potential then Hunter has his whole time here. And i like him better then an unproven 4th round rookie. His athletic skills cod land him anywhere. Fb? What about defence?? Hes a beast. He'll make this team
Date: August 16, 2015 at 2:13 PM
Comment: Why is this even an article? I've seen better threads in Niner Talk. Deceptive title and little content. Smh.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 2:03 PM
Comment: Too good a talent to risk losing him to waivers...
Date: August 16, 2015 at 2:02 PM
Comment: Dont get me wrong. I want him.However,ask yourself this question. Would you swap Hayne for Acker, or Hunter or McCray or Jerrod Eddy or keep fewer TEs. Or do you keep fewer WRs. Interesting huh?.You might see the an injury to somebody,and he makes it. Iam way more concerned about the pass rush.BTW nice article well thought out.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 2:01 PM
Comment: Who wrote your title? There is no way he doesn't make this squad. Anyone who believes Jimmy T will let Bush return punts doesn't know Tomsula. He is not about to risk injury with Bush whose ability to catch passes out of the backfield makes him invaluable. Plus, Hayne hits like a safety and will be valuable of kick coverage teams.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 2:01 PM
Comment: Hayne should make the team for two reasons. You covered the first which is his Kick and Punt Returning. The second reason is that Hayne is also an excellent tackler. He could easily fill the role that Osgood or Ventrone played on special teams in the past. Hopefully the coaches have seen that in his NRL film and give him a shot.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 1:59 PM
Comment: He makes the final cut, and I think there's a good chance they carry five RBs this year, because it gives them versatility at that position and as punt returner/kick returner. My guess is we see Hayne regularly in the latter positions.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 1:45 PM
Comment: This is what sucks about the 53 man roster. A 56 man team with all the players suiting up would allow for rotation,development,and fewer injuries. Unless you poach from another position he will not make it. Practice squad if he clears maybe.He is not a proven player after some runs against backups. This team is deep. Peace
Date: August 16, 2015 at 1:39 PM
Comment: What the hell do you know? Are you in the decision making process? Do you have a leg up on who stays or who goes? He keeps up his solid play he has a solid shot. Bush hasn't performed in a game yet and neither has Hunter. So if they don't get in there how can you deny Jarryd?
Date: August 16, 2015 at 1:18 PM
Comment: I couldn't disagree more. His value on special teams alone should have him make the club.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 1:12 PM
Comment: If he rips off a few more runs like that and continues to show up on special teams, it is Kendall Hunter that should be worried about his roster spot. He is coming back from injury but we are getting glimpses at these other guys. We haven't seen Hunter in a while. I think Hayne has a leg up right now.