Jarryd Hayne Continues Beasting, Piles On More Highlights In Second NFL Game

This is the story of the preseason in pro football.”

When NFL commentators are starting to believe the hype, it’s probably time to sit up and take notice.
Though he still sits low on the 49ers depth chart, and his employment is only guaranteed for another week and a half, Jarryd Hayne is going above and beyond in stating his case for a spot on the San Francisco regular season roster for 2015.
After a spectacular showing in week one of the 49ers preseason against the Houston Texans last weekend, Hayne completely dwarfed that performance in week two.
Against the Dallas Cowboys, in front of the 49ers home crowd at Levis Stadium, Hayne lit up the field in the role of Punt Returner during the first half of the game, fielding three punts for returns of 27, 34, and 23 yards – an average return rate of 28 yards.
To put that in perspective, throughout the entirety of the 2014 regular season, the 49ers longest punt return was 23 yards. Hayne managed to eclipse that mark three times in a single half of football.
It’s Hayne’s ability to make the first blocker miss that was crucial against the Cowboys, and it’s clear from watching him run today that his ability to read blockers and find tighter seams in opposition coverage is improving at a rate of knots.
His first return of the day also featured a stunning over the shoulder catch on a bomb of a punt that had caught his initial positioning off guard. But with ball in hand, he managed to turn water into wine.

On his longest punt return, it was only the the tackle of Dallas punter Chris Jones – at the very last line of defence – that stopped Hayne from turning the play into something truly spectacular.

Those punt returns put the 49ers in excellent field position, helping them to a handy 13-0 half time lead.

But it didn’t end there. After the long break, head coach Jim Tomsula put Hayne in at Running Back for the third quarter, a role which he filled serviceably. Despite the obvious flaws in his still-green game – he runs like a rugby player still, a little too upright to squeeze maximum power out of his legs that NFL carry plays require – he still managed to tack on small gains with each play.
As well as casually pound in this 34 yard monster.

Along with the 84 punt returning yards, Hayne carried the ball 8 times on offence for an additional 54 yards – a team high.

Hayne, somewhat unexpectedly, also saw time in defensive coverage schemes – including the all-important kickoff coverage; on one occasion getting managing to get first hands on the Cowboys kick returner.
The 49ers defensive efforts, overall, were the difference maker in a game – which included a spectacular blocked punt TD on Cowboys Australian punter Tom Hornsey, whose protection collapsed around him – and when the final whistle blew it was a comprehensive 23-6 victory for the home team.
There’s no question that Jarryd Hayne’s game still needs work – that goes without saying. But if the 49ers were ever in need of an elite special teams returner, it’s right now. And one has magically fallen into their lap. As a running back, he’s useful for edge plays; anything designed for the outside of the defensive line. But his inside carrying isn’t quite up to standard at this very early stage, and the 49ers depth chart cup currently runneth over with RB talent that rivals most teams in the league.
But on special teams, in open space, Hayne’s experience, instincts, and athletic ability are exactly the kind of spark that the team could use.
One more preseason game like this – even one half as good as the one he played today – and come September 6th there could well be a very handy NFL players contract coming Jarryd Hayne’s way.
Photo: Lachlan Cunningham via Getty Images.