There has been no shortage of puff pieces about Jarryd Hayne being run by foxsports.com.au thankfully they pointed out that Hayne has not been involved in a practice with the pads on in this weeks story.
One thing that seems to be continually pointed out is how much of a football player Hayne looks like…. Well what a shock he has been involved in professional sport since he was a teenager, of course he looks like a football player.
Haynes best chance to make the team is as kick and/or punt returner, these positions don’t require any new skills that he wouldn’t already have. See ball, catch ball then run with ball, all pretty simple really the problem is that not all NFL teams allow themselves the luxury of a specialist on the roster who cant do anything else.
The transition from NRL player to NFL running back is where Hayne will struggle in my opinion, right now he is at the bottom of the RB depth chart which includes Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter just to name a few.
Playing running back in the NFL is not just about running with the football it is also about pass protection and being a part of the passing game, all of this put together is an extremely steep learning curve for Hayne. The average NFL playbook is massive and uses terminology that will be make little sense to a person who has never taken a snap in a game of American Football.
Currently NFL rosters has 90 players on it, a few days before the last pre season game in August it will be cut to 75 then cut further again to the final 53 a few days after the final pre-season game. What makes it harder again is only 46 will dress for a game of which only 4 of them are likely to be running backs.
As mentioned in an earlier story Haynes best chance is to impress enough at camp that he is signed to the 49ers (or any teams for that matters) practice squad. This is a group of 10 players who are not a part of the 53 man roster but practice and work out with them team during the season. This will give Hayne a full season of being involved in the NFL world and would give him the best chance of making a roster for the 2016 season.
The practice squad is an up and down world, you are a free agent and can be signed (or cut) to any team as well as your own team at any time. Players are signed and cut from the practice squad every week, some are signed to the 53 man roster to fill holes created by injury but a club does not have to sign their own practice squad players, they can go out and sign any free agent during the season to fill holes in the roster.
When 49ers camp starts in July we will begin to see how many reps at practice Hayne is getting and where in the depth chart he really is.