Jarryd Hayne Could be the 49ers’ X-Factor


The San Francisco 49ers won in impressive fashion with a score of 23-6 against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Even though it was only a preseason game, the team improved greatly from their loss in the previous week to the Houston Texans.

However, the Niners failed to score any offensive touchdowns. All of their points came from field goals, a defensive touchdown, and a special teams touchdown. The good news is that the offense was able to produce points on field goals, and Colin Kaepernick only played the first two series of the game. Despite the lack of touchdowns, the 49ers’ offense and Blaine Gabbert looked much better than they did last week.

Carlos Hyde also seemed to run the ball faster and stronger than he did last season. With the departure of Frank Gore, Hyde got the memo that Niners’ running backs need to step up. Hyde was reading blocks and finding lanes especially well during his seven carries for 39 yards. However, Hyde wasn’t the only running back for the 49ers that made a big impact in the win.

Once again, Jarryd Hayne played a great game, and he’s another step closer towards earning a roster spot with the San Francisco 49ers. Hayne’s first touches in the game against Dallas came from punt returns. Some players who are working to make a roster might just try to make a clean fair catch on punts to avoid potential fumbles. The last thing a prospective player wants is to be remembered in the preseason for committing turnovers.

On the other hand, Jarryd Hayne is a veteran professional rugby player from Australia, and Hayne put his great athleticism on display every chance he had. Hayne returned three punts for a total of 84 yards. That’s impressive stuff for a guy who was only in his second game of organized football.

Hayne looked brilliant as he expertly flagged down tough punts, and he effortlessly wove through the Cowboys’ punt coverage. His impressive mix of open-field speed and tackle breaking strength could make Hayne a deadly weapon for the Niners.

Aside from the punt returns, he had eight rushes for 54 yards. If you watched Jarryd Hayne in the past two 49ers’ games, you’d instantly know why so many people are excited and intrigued about this guy.

There were a lot of concerns over whether his rugby talent would translate to NFL football, and Hayne definitely put those issues to rest. Of course some people may have been skeptical after his good performance against the Texans. Anybody in the NFL can have one good game, but Hayne asserted that his stellar debut was not a fluke.

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If anything, Hayne looked better against the Cowboys than he did against the Texans. In the most recent game, Jarryd Hayne carried the ball with an improved confidence. One thing I noticed from his debut was how loosely he carried the football. That’s a sure way to commit a lot of fumbles, and that could obviously get him cut from the team. Fortunately, Hayne seemed to learn from last game, and he carried the ball much tighter against the Cowboys.

There is no way the San Francisco 49ers can cut Jarryd Hayne at this point. The team needs to embrace his stellar talent because he could really boost the offense and special teams. If you look at Hayne, you might guess that he is a powerful runner. However, his speed and vision while running with the football makes him a great athlete.

During his rushes and punt returns, Hayne showcased incredible speed and vision and he attacked all the correct lanes. Part of the issue with new running backs is that they are impatient and don’t hit holes quickly enough. Hayne sees the openings in the defense, and he goes for it.

The 49ers need to give Hayne regular reps all season. They have tons of depth at the running back position, and they have an opportunity to utilize their talent in creative ways.

Reggie Bush could be used almost like a receiver, Carlos Hyde should be the workhorse ball carrier who gets 15+ rushes, and Jarryd Hayne should be the x-factor who returns punts and provides productive carries.

If would be a huge disappointment if the 49ers let a player as unique and talented as Hayne get away from them. He hasn’t been giving the organization any reason to consider cutting him. If anything, Hayne is proving that he truly deserves to be a key player on the 49ers.

It’s also encouraging to see that Hayne isn’t letting his new success get to this head. ESPN quoted him saying:

"“I’m still a long way off from where I want to be,” Hayne said. “I want to go into games confident that everything I do I’m comfortable with.”"

Jarryd Hayne is a guy who’s willing to put in extra work to get better, and that’s the type of talent that the San Francisco 49ers need on their roster. If Hayne keeps getting better, it will be easy to forget about all of the players the Niners lost this past offseason.

During the game, Hayne even got a friendly Tweet from the Golden State Warriors’ center, Andrew Bogut.

Jarryd Hayne is talented, strong, fast, and clearly likable. What more would the 49ers’ organization or fans want from a player?

Next: Mike Purcell Continues Strong Push to Make 53-Man Roster