SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Perhaps the most intriguing member of the San Francisco 49ers 90-man preseason roster is Jarryd Hayne, the Australian rugby star trying to make the transition to serviceable NFL player.
Hayne has seen reps as a returner on special teams in training camp as well as at running back, and with the Niners opening up exhibition season play Saturday at the Houston Texans, 49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst gave more than an inkling as to Hayne's role.
"We're definitely going to use him on all facets of the game," Chryst said Wednesday. "Running, catching, fielding on special teams, whatever T-Mac (special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey Jr.) wants to do. And at the end of the day, I think we'll know more about Jarryd. But it's exciting."
Chryst said there is also a learning curve, of sorts, for Hayne in a language barrier. Even as Hayne speaks English. It's about "football" language.
"What does 'live' mean to him, you know?" Chryst said. "Means something different. We were joking earlier, what does an 'odd front' mean to him? It's a really 'odd front.'
"So, all of these things, he's done a great job with the learning curve, but it still comes down to, 'How am I going to run?' And what I noticed was that he had a run (Tuesday) where, here's another football phrase, he ‘put his foot in the ground' and went north. I think he did that because he had confidence that it wasn't just a fog of bodies and that there's going to be some contact. But, he's been running through contact pretty much his whole life, so I'm really excited to see him play in the Houston game as well."
The Niners ended practice on Sunday with a live tackling-to-the-ground goal line drill, and Hayne, after putting his foot in the ground and eluding Eli Harold in the backfield, was absolutely drilled by Tank Carradine and Shayne Skov just before he crossed the goal line.
One snap later, though, Hayne, who has had every move dissected back home and has had two Australian camera crews covering him here, bulled his way into the end zone for the TD.
"I think it will be exciting for him in the locker room before the game because we all know, you go to practice, then you go to a padded practice and then you go to a preseason game and that's how you ramp up," Chryst said. "So, I'm excited to see him."
As is an entire continent.