SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Jarryd Hayne’s second straight attention-grabbing preseason performance for the 49ers has coach Jim Tomsula continuing his “let’s not get ahead of ourselves here” routine, but the reality is on the edge of inescapable: this guy is going to make the team.
Pro Football Hall of Famer John Madden is a believer, too. “He’s come all the way from ‘Gee, that’s a nice story, rugby player, all this thing’ to ‘Doggone, right now he’s a pretty good player'”, Madden told us on KCBS this morning during his Daily Madden segment.
“Right now, I think he has to make the team, don’t you?,” Madden asked me.
I absolutely do. I’m no Hall of Famer, but anyone can see that Hayne has the speed, strength, athleticism and hands to play in the NFL.
And just to seal the deal, there’s this: if he doesn’t play for the 49ers, he could come back to haunt them. “There’s no way he’s going to be on the 49er practice squad,” said Madden, “Because to get on a practice squad, you have to be waived – you have to clear waivers.”
In other words, every other NFL team would have to say “no thanks” before Hayne could slip back into the Niners’ hands.
Can a team afford to use one of its 53 roster spots on a punt returner? Can a team with a traffic jam at running back carry a guy with zero experience at the position? Admittedly tricky questions, but the answer has to be found because the awesome Aussie’s made it clear he belongs.
After all, his jersey’s already on sale. Madden says the one thing that stands out about Hayne is his ability to catch the ball, suggesting the 49ers could use him as a slotback or in a 5-receiver, empty-backfield set if they’re worried about his ability to handle “normal” running back duties.