Jarryd Hayne to join 49ers

ByMichael Rothstein via ESPN logo
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
ESPN

Jarryd Hayne will start his journey from the National Rugby League in Australia to a potential NFL roster spot with the San Francisco 49ers on a futures/reserves contract.

The 27-year-old, who was named the NRL's Player of the Year in 2014, announced the decision during a news conference in Sydney on Tuesday and picked the Niners over the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks, his other two finalists.

Hayne said when his agent initially told him San Francisco was interested, he said no because of the coaching switch from Jim Harbaugh to Jim Tomsula. But he went and met with Tomsula for about an hour and said "he was probably the one coach that knew the transition better than anyone."

Hayne said there was $100,000 guaranteed with San Francisco; Detroit did not make a similar offer.

He said he informed San Francisco of his decision Friday.

"This is a small step in the right direction," Hayne said. "The hard stuff starts now."

Hayne is attempting to become the rare player who has spent the majority of his career overseas playing a different sport to have a successful conversion to the NFL.

He initially announced his intentions to retire from Rugby League to try and make the NFL in October and will try to make the league as a running back.

Since then, he's spent time training in the United States, including with former NFL receiver Tim Dwight. During his Pro Day, the National Football Post reported he ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, although it is unclear if that was electronically timed or hand-timed. At his Pro Day, he measured in at 6-foot-2, 226 pounds.

Hayne's road to actually making an NFL roster likely would still be long since he has no prior football experience. Dwight told ESPN.com last week he felt Hayne had some quickness and speed and also had good size and height, but would have to learn how to take a hit in the league. When he does, Dwight said, he could be difficult to tackle.

"He's going to have to come in and play special teams. He's going to have to learn how to rush the punt and then get back and block for a return," Dwight told ESPN.com last week. "He's going to have to learn how to cover a punt, but that should be pretty instinctive to him. We were trying to look at what positions he would play on the field, either offensively or defensively. Rugby, especially being a forward, you're pretty much an offensive-minded guy.

"We kind of focused on that for him to be successful on the offensive side of the ball. So you're looking possibly as an H-Back. But you don't see a whole lot of H-Backs in the NFL anymore. But a guy that could maybe run the ball a little bit as well as jump in the slot and run some routes."

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