SANTA CLARA – Jarryd Hayne has been tucked away on the 49ers’ practice squad for the second half of the season.
Third-string running back Kendall Gaskins sustained a concussion in the 49ers’ 24-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns, and coach Jim Tomsula was asked Wednesday if Gaskins’ condition might prompt the 49ers to promote Hayne to the active roster.
“I’m not going to talk about any roster things and, by the way, Kendall did look good today,” Tomsula said. “But we see Jarryd in practice. He’s practicing very hard.”
Hayne appears unlikely to supplant Bruce Ellington as the team’s punt returner, especially after Ellington had a season-long 36-yard return on Sunday. Ellington has averaged 8.1 yards on 12 returns, while Hayne averaged 9.5 yards on eight returns before losing his job. Both players have lost one fumble.
Special-teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said Hayne is not seeing much action in practice on punt returns. Hayne is working at a number of different positions -- on both sides of the ball -- on the scout team.
"Obviously, we’ll keep those skills honed with him, the punt return stuff," McGaughey said. "He needs to learn how to play football, to learn how to run and cover kicks, and protect punts. That kind of stuff is invaluable for him in his overall skill development. He has a ton of ability. He just needs to learn the game – all aspects of the game.
"Obviously, from what he did in the preseason, we thought he had the skills enough to be a punt returner. It’s a new deal. Every day is a new day for him. It just didn’t work out, but he just needs to learn how to play the game of football."
As a member of the 49ers’ practice squad, Hayne can be signed by another team at any time. At the end of the season, he will also be free to sign a contract with any other team unless the 49ers promote him to the 53-man roster prior to the final regular-season game.
In other news, outside linebacker Aaron Lynch and tight end Vance McDonald, both of whom sat out Sunday’s game due to concussions, are expected to be back at practice on Wednesday, Tomsula said.
Guard Alex Boone, whose MRI on Monday revealed a slight tear to the MCL in his right knee, and linebacker Michael Wilhoite (ankle) are listed as week-to-week. Boone is not expected to play for the remainder of the season.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith is not expected to practice on Wednesday due to back spasms. Defensive back Jimmie Ward (elbow) is expected to see at least limited practice time.