Australia rugby league star Jarryd Hayne announced Monday night he will begin his possible NFL career with the 49ers. His announcement was made Tuesday on television in Sydney, which is 19 hours ahead of the Pacific time zone.
A league source confirmed the 49ers and Hayne agreed to terms on a contract that has a guaranteed component to the deal. Hayne said the guarantee is $100,000. No other team offered Hayne any guarantees, he said.
Hayne, 27, will join the 49ers' 90-man offseason roster as a running back an return man. He faces long odds to make it through training camp and make a contribution during the regular season. He will be eligible to join the 49ers' offseason program on April 6.
He made visits to the 49ers, Detoit Lions and Seattle Seahawks. Daily Telegraph in Sydney reported last week that Hayne would sign with the Lions.
Hayne said he signed with the 49ers because of coach Jim Tomsula, who worked in NFL Europe, where he routinely taught American football to foreign players who had no previous experience. Hayne said he spent an hour with Tomsula during his visit to Santa Clara during the regular season.
"He spent so much time with rugby players, and he was probably the one coach who knew the transition better than anyone and knew what it took and what it's going to take for me to make the transition," Hayne said.
At a recent pro day, Hayne checked in at 6 foot 2, 226 pounds. He reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.53 seconds. He caught passes out of the backfield and fielded punts at his pro day, which was held at the University of San Diego.
Hayne won the National Rugby League’s equivalent of the most valuable player for a second time last season. In October, he was given a conditional release from his team, the Parramatta Eels, to allow him the opportunity to pursue a career in the NFL.
Obviously, he faces stiff odds to land a spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster. Carlos Hyde is the 49ers' top running back under contract. Kendall Hunter, who missed last season due to a torn ACL, is also under contract. Frank Gore is scheduled for unrestricted free agency.
Bruce Ellington returns as the 49ers' top punt returner. The 49ers also have late-season pickup Trindon Holliday, a speedster with four return touchdowns in 33 NFL games, under contract for next season.
The 49ers will begin the third year of an experiment to develop former British rugby player and Olympian Lawrence Okoye into an NFL defensive lineman. Okoye has spent the past two seasons working closely with Jim Tomsula, now the head coach. Okoye, who was an Olympic finalist in the discus in the 2012 London Olympics, spent his first season on injured reserve and was a member of the practice squad last year.