Jarryd Hayne’s stint at the 49ers rookie minicamp ended today. The US media had mixed views about his readiness for the NFL.
Like San Francisco coach Jim Tomsula said on day one of the camp, most local reporters were impressed by Hayne’s enthusiasm in training and learning the game, though there were still obvious areas that needed work.
49ers beat writer Matt Barrows from the Sacramento Bee said that what Hayne lacks in experience he has made up for in effort, calling the former NRL star “the busiest 49er this off-season.”
Barrows praised Hayne’s commitment since joining the Californian NFL franchise, and was further encouraged by what he saw at the minicamp. The Aussie dropped just one punt and sought practice time with new and old members of the team.
“Hayne was on the field with veterans Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter as they went through their routine in the second phase of the off-season program. When that was over, he stuck around and got some extra work with the rookies,” Barrows said.
It was also reported that Hayne’s practice time has increased and his chances of making the final 53-man squad bolstered by one of his rivals being sidelined.
“With last year’s punt returner, Bruce Ellington, dealing with a hamstring strain, Hayne has had plenty of work receiving punts in recent weeks,” Barrows said.
In Grant Cohn’s column ranking San Francisco’s top seven off-season priorities, Hayne was listed at no. 2, as the 49ers determine if he is worthy of a place on the roster. Cohn said the answer to that will lie in August’s preseason games.
“The Niners already have four running backs. They need another returner,” he said.
“They need to find out if Hayne can be that guy. And they can’t find out until he plays in a full-speed preseason game.”
After the 49ers rookie practice, it was widely reported as a huge success for Hayne in staking a claim in the squad as a punt-returner.
In the Mercury News, reporter Cam Inman detailed the extra effort Hayne showed on the practice field.
“At one point, Hayne dashed over to a neighbouring field to field a skewed punt by rookie Bradley Pinion in about 15mph winds,” Inman wrote.
“Jarryd Hayne’s chances of making the 49ers roster likely hinge on his ability to field punts, and Friday he made an encouraging first impression in that regard.”
CSN Bay Area’s NFL expert Matt Maiocco noticed during that same session that though he was catching regular punts with ease, the “rugby” kick was a challenge.
“Ironically, Hayne muffed an end-over-end punt, called a rugby kick, that is used for dropping balls inside the 20-yard line,” Maiocco said.
Maiocco said Hayne also received one-on-one help getting his running game up to scratch.
“Running backs coach Tom Rathman worked with him on the proper footwork while taking hand-offs from rookie quarterback Dylan Thompson.”
The next milestone for Hayne will be in July when training camp commences with the full squad and players practice in full pads and contact.
As Barrows put so eloquently — “Jarryd Hayne looks good, but he’s still in shorts”.
Writing for NFL.com, Dan Hanzus noted Tomsula’s praise and also the earlier declaration from veteran 49ers running back Reggie Bush that Hayne was a sure thing to make the roster Yet he also took heed of Tomsula’s warning that Hayne was “still playing rugby”.
“Translation: Hayne supporters shouldn’t get too excited just yet,” Hanzus wrote.
“Hayne’s success in the National Rugby League — he was one of the league’s signature stars — makes him a particularly interesting player to watch this summer. It’s not quite Michael Jordan riding the bus with the Birmingham Barons, but Hayne’s attempt to cross over is being watched intently in his native Australia.”
Source: Link to original article.