During the San Francisco 49ers training camp, several media members raved about the ability of one of the team’s undrafted free agents. Running back JaMycal Hasty was turning heads with his performance as the Niners prepared for Week 1 of the 2020 season.
The Baylor product’s speed and agility immediately caught the eyes of local beat writers, who penned articles praising Hasty’s raw talent, which didn’t sit too well with head coach Kyle Shanahan.
The pandemic forced the NFL to cancel the preseason, something Shanahan was happy about because it meant other teams couldn’t get a look at the players further down the depth chart.
“Guys aren’t ready to all the time and you’d like to keep them on practice squad until they’re ready,” Shanahan said. “The problem is other people steal them off of your roster. We didn’t think we’d have to worry about that this year, since we didn’t have games, but your articles were written so well, we got nervous about it.”
Hasty was hopeful that he would hear his name called at the 2020 NFL Draft after compiling 1,998 yards and 15 touchdowns over four seasons with the Bears. After not being picked over the seven rounds, Hasty signed with the 49ers two days after the draft concluded.
The 24-year-old was waived during the final cuts but landed on the practice roster. After top two running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman got hurt against the New York Jets in Week 2, San Francisco called up Hasty to the active roster.
Hasty came in for mop-up duties against the New York Giants in Week 3, finishing with 9 yards on two rushing attempts. Still, his decisiveness and speed went noticed by teams around the league, who inquired about his availability.
“We have expressed our plans for him and the guy had to make a tough decision a few weeks ago, whether to stay here on practice squad for another week or go to another team and he chose to stay here,” Shanahan said. “He believed he’d eventually get his opportunity. We told him we didn’t know when, but it ended up happening the next week. So, he was ready and I’m glad he’s here for it.”
Hasty’s patience paid off. He didn’t get to play any offensive snaps in the Niners’ next two games, but after Mostert was injured against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 6, Hasty got his chance to shine, rushing for 37 yards on nine carries to help close out the game.
Hasty realizes how much he can improve in Shanahan’s system, which has turned no-name running backs into stars. As Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports points out, all practice squad players make $8,400 a week. A promotion to the 53-man roster comes with a weekly pay increase to $35,882.
The money wasn’t the deciding factor for Hasty, something Shanahan says he harps on with younger, unproven players.
“I really tell people the truth and it’s a lot easier when you believe in someone like we do with him, but guys are so excited to get a start in the NFL and make a little more money that week and stuff,” Shanahan said. “I just try to tell guys that, a week’s paycheck, that might help your lifestyle for a little bit, but that’s not money that’s going to last you. If you want money in this league, you’ve got to make it and you’ve got to get to that second contract if you ever want to have some savings and stuff like that.”