The open of training camp gets us a little bit closer to figuring out just what San Francisco 49ers rookie Jarryd Hayne brings to the team. The former rugby star is attempting to transition to the NFL as a combination of return man and running back. Hayne was on hand for the offseason workout program, but training camp will provide Hayne an opportunity to see what he can do when the pads are on and hitting is happening.
One of the biggest adjustments for Hayne, along with being without flat whites for a while, is the process of learning how each linebacker moves and changing his running style accordingly to be able to block and/or get by them. His roommate during camp is Carlos Hyde, and the second year running back has been able to discuss technique with him. Getting his hips lower and loosened up are a priority as well as which gap to go through but one thing is certain, Hayne is not afraid to take a hit. "I'm sure there are times I'll get smashed and run a little too upright but that's part of the learning curve. I think for me, I don't have fear in that. I'd rather get hit hard and learn like that instead of trying to beat around the bush and kind of fancy my way through it."
One other difference for Hayne is the size of American footballs vs. Rugby balls which are much larger. He even mentioned catching a pass from Colin Kaepernick is like catching a baseball.
When asked about Hayne, both coaches and players have been very positive. Jim Tomsula and Eric Mangini used the word "determined." Reggie Bush said "He's coming along great." Roommate Hyde says he's "a real cool guy." Mangini spoke at length about the respect he has for the transition Hayne is trying to make and the pressure it will bring.
When he left Australia for training camp, it was actually his third goodbye, and his most significant one, knowing he will be gone for six to seven months this go around. He said when he saw all of the players and felt the warm weather here in Santa Clara, he did feel relieved that it wouldn't be as difficult as he had thought. He's had a great support group of people visiting and that will continue into the season with family and friends coming to watch games.