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Jarryd Hayne was behind learning 49ers playbook, wishes he had made NFL attempt sooner

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We got a chance to learn a little more about Jarryd Hayne’s retirement decision, as well as his random start at running back last year.

Jarryd Hayne is currently in the midst of preparing for the 2016 Rio Summer Games, playing rugby for the Fiji National Team. Earlier this week, Hayne was doing some media as part of his new global ambassador position with Fiji Airways, and he had a chance to discuss his time with the San Francisco 49ers. He talked about why he left early, and some regrets he has about the NFL.

Hayne said he viewed Chip Kelly’s playbook as too intense for a guy who had no football experience prior to last season. He talked about how had he spent more time in the NFL, picking up the playbook would have been a lot different. His biggest regret out of all of this seems to be that he wishes he had left the NRL for the NFL earlier in his career. He figures had he done that, he might have gotten adjusted to learning playbooks and the game a lot quicker. And that’s only logical considering the learning curve he faced coming over from Australia. He realized that at his current age, he only has so much time left to compete as a world class athlete. If he was 22 or 23, he might be able to split up his time a bit more. But he recognizes that at 28, he does not exactly have all the time in the world to compete against world class athletes.

Matt Barrows wrote about the interview as well, but he had some interesting context we did not previously know about last season. Hayne was promoted to the 53-man roster for the final two weeks of the season after Alex Boone was placed on injured reserve, and Shaun Draughn suffered an injury that eventually put him on IR. Hayne started in Week 16 and got 35 offensive snaps. A week later, he was active but got one special teams snap, and no offensive work.

The decision was a little odd, but Barrows explained it in his article. He reported the team wanted to pass on the first play in order to get Anquan Boldin his 1,000th career reception. They had signed DuJuan Harris, but he had primarily learned the running plays. Kendall Gaskins was on the roster, but Barrows said a source told him, Gaskins had missed or been late to a meeting, and they could not give him the start. And so, Hayne got the start and a lot of work.

Just reading through Barrows’ discussion of that scenario sort of cracked me up. Given how the 49ers season went down, something about it just seems apt to be making that decision late in the season. The 49ers season quickly went down the tubes, and they really were just playing for individual achievements by then. As forgettable as we’d like last season to be, little things like this are going to be hard to forget for now. It was just a monumental cluster-[site decorum] of a season.