When Jarryd Hayne finally made it to the United States to begin his pursuit of employment in the NFL, he was 27 years old with no real concept of the mental aspect of American football.
After one season in the NFL with the 49ers, appearing in eight regular-season games, Hayne found himself learning all over again this offseason when the 49ers hired Chip Kelly to replace Jim Tomsula.
"I just think with Chip's playbook, it's such an intense playbook that it would just take too much time," Hayne said this week via Fairfax Media.
Hayne, who turned 28 in February, retired in May to pursue an opportunity to compete in the Summer Olympics with the Fiji national team in rugby sevens. The 12-member team will be announced next month.
Hayne said he felt he was far behind his 49ers teammates this offseason because he had never played college football and does not have a broad understanding of the game.
"Me not having that college history, I think a lot of the guys adapt to it a lot faster because they've had the college playbooks at thought,” Hayne said. “I was always behind the nine ball just learning, in general. The guys playing in college were just that far ahead.
"That was the biggest thing, just knowing and wishing I had a couple of more years up my sleeve. If I had a couple more years up my sleeve 100 percent I know what player I could have been. But time is of the essence and now I'm on to my next adventure and it's brought me to Fiji."
Hayne announced his decision in October 2014 to leave Australia’s National Rugby League to attempt to play in the NFL. Hayne said he wishes he had time to prove he could play multiple sports at the highest level.
"It wasn't that I didn't want it anymore. I still wanted it," Hayne said. "I would have loved to have played both. I would love to have played three sports or four sports. I would love to play league, union, sevens, NFL . . . I would have loved to play all four but you just can't do it.
"It was hard at the 49ers. With the new coaching staff and the guys that really put the study and that in -- it all changed. It was tough, but I worked hard and made the 90-man squad. That meant I'll be back in preseason, but time isn't on my side. I had to make a decision and being in Fiji was it."
Hayne would have faced a difficult battle to win a roster spot with the 49ers this season among a group of running backs that include Carlos Hyde, Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris, Mike Davis and rookie Kelvin Taylor. He said his decision to leave the 49ers was not easy but he has no regrets.
"It was extremely tough. I was watching some stuff last night on YouTube of Adrian Peterson highlights and I look back at it going 'Damn, I was out on the same field as he was on,’” Hayne said.
"Those things, you look at that and you think about that. But you make sacrifices in life and opportunities don't come up very often you just have to enjoy it and embrace the situation."
Kelly said he was surprised when Hayne told him of his plan to attempt to earn a spot with the Fiji team.
When asked if he and general manager Trent Baalke left the door open for Hayne to make a possible return to the 49ers, Kelly said, "We didn’t even talk about that. He just came in and met with Trent first, then came down and explained what he wanted to do and that he was going to play for Fiji in the rugby sevens and thanked us for everything. And that was kind of it.”