The San Francisco 49ers kick off their offseason workout program Tuesday, opening Phase 1 in Santa Clara. The first phase is strictly strength and conditioning work, combined with rehab work for injured players. The program is not mandatory, but generally the team will be looking for full or close to full participation. There are often some veterans who will handle the first few weeks on their own before OTAs, but otherwise, players should be in attendance.
One notable presence will hopefully be Jarryd Hayne. The Australian rugby league star signed a free agent contract with the 49ers, and has already begun the learning process toward becoming a professional football player. Upon arriving in the United States, Hayne went down to Arizona to work with Colin Kaepernick at the EXOS performance center. Hayne has a long way to go, but getting in some workout time with Kap seems like a strong first step.
Matt Barrows wrote an article yesterday that goes into some details about Hayne's time in Arizona. The most interesting part of the article might be that Hayne displayed some soft hands in receiving drills. According to Dennis Gile (Kap's offseason QB coach), Hayne has shown some solid hands. Hayne caught plenty of balls as a rugby league fullback, but catching them out of the backfield in the NFL is going to be a little bit different.
People here seem pretty optimistic about Hayne. A week and a half ago, 72 percent of voters believed Hayne would spend at least one game on the 49ers 53-man roster this season. The next couple weeks won't tell us much of anything about Hayne's development, but they get us moving toward the bigger parts of the program. As a return man, there is not a whole lot Hayne will be able to show us in non-contact work. Once we get into preseason games, we'll get a better handle on that. But until then, there is plenty he'll be able to learn and show as a potential running back or H-back.