Back in December, there was a report that the San Francisco 49ers hosted former Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne for a visit. According to National Football Post, Hayne also visited with the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions. His agent suggested Hayne had narrowed his choices to three teams and would make a decision sometime soon. NFP said he also drew interest from the Saints, Vikings, Broncos, Titans, Buccaneers and Jets.
While that is all well and good, the Daily Telegraph in Australia reported over the weekend that Hayne will announce his intention of signing with the Lions. They are reporting he will make the announcement this week, and he will play running back for the Lions. We'll keep an eye out for official word on Hayne, but at this point, my guess is we do in fact see him in Detroit this year.
The San Francisco 49ers have not been one to shy away from unconventional players in recent years. The most notable example is Lawrence Okoye, a defensive lineman the 49ers have worked with to develop over the last two years. Okoye spent the 2013 season on injured reserve, and then spent the 2014 season on the practice squad.
Okoye signed a reserve/future contract last month, which means he will take part in the offseason workout program, and likely training camp as well. He has two years under his belt, although last year offered him a greater opportunity than his year on IR. He has had a considerable learning curve, but the more time he spends, the faster that curve lessens.
The 49ers defensive line faces some questions this offseason, following Ray McDonald's release and Justin Smith's potential retirement. The defensive line depth chart includes guys like Glenn Dorsey (at any of the three positions), Quinton Dial, Ian Williams and Mike Purcell at nose tackle, and Tank Carradine, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Kaleb Ramsey at the 3-4 defensive end positions.
Whether or not Smith retires, there is a good chance the 49ers invest significant draft capital on the line. Okoye faces an uphill battle for a roster spot, even if the 49ers do not add anybody in free agency or the draft. I suspect he ends up spending another season on the practice squad. We have not seen Okoye in action since last preseason, so it is entirely possible he makes a significant leap heading into training camp this summer. Of course, a "significant leap" still probably is not enough for him to earn a roster spot. But, we'll wait and see what the preseason brings.