The San Francisco 49ers signed Jarryd Hayne to a three year deal early in the offseason. At the time, we learned that the deal included an $8,000 signing bonus, and $100,000 in a 2015 base salary guarantee. A player on the practice squad earns a minimum of $6,600 per week, totaling $112,200 for the season. Given the close nature of the numbers, it seemed like Hayne had been guaranteed at least a practice squad spot.
On Friday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke confirmed this in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.
"We promised Jarryd that at the worst end of it, he was going to be a member of our practice squad for the entire season ...
We'd committed to him for at least one season to put in that developmental work. To his credit, he really picked up the mental aspect of the game fairly quickly.
"A lot of his skill-sets that he exhibited in Australian rugby in open field running was a big part of that game that comes naturally. He's still learning how to play that running back position and run the ball between the tackles but I think when you get him in the open field, whether if it's from the running back position or the return position, that's where he excels."
It is not a surprising revelation. There was some competition for his services, and a practice squad guarantee seemed like an easy option to offer. With a player who has never played football before, it makes sense to give him one year on the practice squad to develop his game.
Of course, Hayne's game translated much quicker than many expected. He was an absolute beast on the field, and forced the 49ers to keep him on the roster. They would have had to waive Hayne to get him on the practice squad, and after the preseason he had, it was all but guaranteed somebody would have claimed him off waivers.
Now we get to see just how high the 49ers are on Hayne. Baalke told the Herald they did not feel they could get him through waivers to the practice squad, saying there was too much good film on him. The 49ers can potentially include him as a weekly inactive and not be concerned about someone poaching him. It will be fascinating to see if he is inactive or active, and potentially tell us where the 49ers see him at this point in his career.