SANTA CLARA -- Jarryd Hayne has watched NFL games on TV. But the former Australia rugby league star will not be a spectator on Saturday night.
The 49ers plan to use the first-year running back in just about every conceivable way as he makes a bid to turn his summer audition into a professional football career in the fall, winter and beyond. The 49ers open the exhibition season Saturday at the Houston Texans.
“We’re definitely going to use him on all facets of the game: Running, catching, fielding on special teams, whatever T-Mac (special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey) wants to do," 49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst said on Wednesday.
“And at the end of the day, I think we’ll know more about Jarryd, but it’s exciting.”
Hayne has always demonstrated a natural ability to catch passes out of the backfield and field punts. On Sunday, he had a couple of memorable plays during a live goal-line period. Hayne made rookie linebacker Eli Harold miss in the backfield, but 295-pound defensive lineman Tank Carradine dropped him before he reached the end zone. A few players later, Hayne eluded six would-be tacklers to score on an impressive 1-yard touchdown run.
“There’s that learning curve and you can talk all you want about it or you can forecast all you want, I think it’ll be exciting for him in the locker room before the game because we all know, you go to practice, then you go to a padded practice and then you go to a preseason game and that’s how you ramp up,” Chryst said. “So I’m excited to see him.”
Chryst quipped about new lexicon with which Hayne has dealt since he made the transition to American football in the spring.
“There’s a language barrier even though he still speaks with that Australian accent, English,” Chyrst said. “What does live mean to him, you know? It means something different.
“So, all of these things, he’s done a great job with the learning curve, but it still comes down to how am I going to run and what I noticed was that he had a run yesterday where -- here’s another football phrase -- he put his foot in the ground and went north. I think he did that because he had confidence that it wasn’t just a fog of bodies and that there’s going to be some contact. But, he’s been running through contact pretty much his whole life, so I’m really excited to see him play in the Houston game as well.”