Jarryd Hayne waited anxiously with his family for any kind of news of his status with the 49ers. Finally, coach Jim Tomsula sent him a text message to offer congratulations.
Tomsula recalled, "I said something to the effect of, ‘Welcome to the starting line. It’s a long race.’ "
Saturday turned out to be a long wait for Hayne, who did not hear anything from the 49ers until after the 1 p.m. deadline had passed for the initial cuts to the 53-man roster.
"That was probably the first time I've been nervous in a while,” said Hayne, who distinguished himself during the exhibition season with the 49ers as a fearless return man and running back.
The season begins Monday, Sept. 14, when the 49ers face the Minnesota Vikings, and Tomsula would not say what Hayne’s role will be – or even if he would be among the 46 players active and in uniform for the season opener.
[RELATED: Hayne works his way onto 49ers roster]
Just 11 months earlier, Hayne announced he was leaving Australia’s National Rugby League to attempt to play in the NFL.
“This journey isn’t just a journey where I woke up and wanted to be an NFL player, it’s been a long process,” Hayne said. “With long processes come a lot of dark days, a lot of joyful days and a lot of things that are emotional.”
The magnitude of Hayne’s achievement was certainly not lost on the first-year 49ers head coach.
“Making an NFL roster, period, is an outstanding accomplishment,” Tomsula said. “Obviously, his situation is unique.
“You’re talking about a guy coming into a game that he’s never played. The odds of an American that grows up in this game playing in the National Football League . . . it’s astronomical. Now you’re talking about a guy that was not raised in this game and he’s made it.
“It’s a tremendous achievement, but I think it’s also why everybody is so enamored with it. It’s that true story, the American way or the Australian way. Work hard, keep driven, and you’ve made it.”
Hayne and his 49ers teammates will be back to practice on Monday, as he looks to solidify his position on the team. Tomsula made a point that Hayne has by no means arrived at his destination.
“The NFL can be an unforgiving business,” Tomsula said. “You’re playing for your job every day. It’s not like you make a milestone, you exhale and now you’re there.”
[RELATED: 49ers' initial 53-man roster]
--Defenisve lineman Mike Purcell figured he had a good chance to make the team when he heard about the team's decision to release veteran Darnell Dockett. But it was Purcell who earned the roster spot.
"I’ve grown overall on and off the field," Purcell said. "You can always practice well but if you don’t carry it over into the games, it doesn’t help."
Purcell said he was able to carry over his learning off the field and his knowledge of the playbook into games, where he made some big plays. Purcell's highlight came when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the second exhibition game.
--Running back Kendall Hunter was placed on injured reserve because his surgically repaired right knee never fully recovered from the torn ACL he sustained during training camp last summer. It's possible Hunter could return later in the season.
“He’s just got to have that thing checked … It’s not quite right yet,” Tomsula said.
--Rookie tight end Busta Anderson, a seventh-round draft pick, was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Tomsula said.
--The decision to release Dockett was made because of the deep and talented group of young linemen, according to Tomsula.
“The play of that whole group impacted that decision,” Tomsula said. “I have nothing but respect for Darnell Dockett’s play. . . I just wish him the best. It’s just another one of those tough decisions.”
--The biggest surprise of Saturday’s cuts was inside linebacker Nick Moody, who started two exhibition games in place of Michael Wilhoite. The 49ers ended up keeping Shayne Skov and Nick Bellore in place of Moody.
“Yeah, that was a tough decision,” Tomsula said. “Nick Moody has busted his tail. It’s just where that worked out numbers-wise.”