SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- If once is a flash, does twice make it a trend? Jarryd Hayne, the Australian rugby star attempting to cross over as an NFL player, again impressed as a punt returner and running back for the San Francisco 49ers. Here are some quick thoughts on the 49ers' 23-6 preseason defeat of the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium:
A surprise player who looks amazing: The Jarryd Hayne Show continued. A week after the Australian rugby star accounted for 120 total yards in Houston, Hayne returned three punts for 84 yards, with each return eliciting more oohs and ahhs. His first punt return, though, was especially epic in that he made like Willie Mays with an over-the-shoulder catch before bringing it back 27 yards. He also had eight carries for 54 yards while flashing his stiff-arm to Cowboys safety Jeff Heath in the open field on a 23-yard run to the left. So, in two preseason games, the Aussie has 258 total yards, averaging 9.0 yards per carry, 21.6 yards per punt return and 33.0 yards per kickoff return.
QB depth chart: Holding steady? Look, this is Colin Kaepernick's gig, so don’t trip. He looked fairly sharp, though his stat line of 2-for-5 passing for 13 yards and a 47.9 passer rating in two series is pedestrian at best. But he did direct the offense down the field on a 13-play, 51-yard drive that should have ended with a 7-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith. Alas, Corey White knocked the ball out of Smith’s hands and the 49ers had to settle for a field goal. Kaepernick also took a nasty-looking 14-yard sack on his final play when he was seemingly backpedaling from the pressure, oblivious to the rush.
Maybe that dude could start: Mike Purcell. Remember him? After being a force in the trenches at Houston last week, the defensive lineman again made a name for himself. This time, he showed how fast and nimble a 303-pound man can be on his 37-yard pick-six against Dustin Vaughan in the second quarter.
Who got hurt? A couple of second-stringers suffered injuries in the first half, as tight end Vance McDonald (ankle) was ruled out and defensive lineman Tank Carradine (leg) was questionable to return.
Rookie watch: First-round pick Arik Armstead applied a QB pressure on Purcell’s pick-six, while second-round safety Jaquiski Tartt had some hard hits and third-round linebacker Eli Harold shared a sack with Quinton Dial.
When it was starters vs. starters, the 49ers looked ...: Dominant. At least, defensively. The first-team defense, with inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman making his preseason debut, held the Cowboys to a 1-yard loss in a three-and-out first series. The Niners’ first-team offense also looked crisp in a 13-play, 51-yard drive on its first series.
One reason to freak out: It was only three plays, but Bowman was all over the field, looking like his old three-time All-Pro self in his first game action since suffering that ghastly left knee injury in January 2014. In those three snaps, Bowman was credited with three tackles, including two for a loss.
Wait, what? So Jerome Simpson is suspended by the NFL for six games yet is eligible to play and practice in the preseason. So there he was, catching a 9-yard pass in the first half and taking valuable reps from somebody who could use them to prepare for the start of the season. Then again, Quinton Patton, who needs every rep, took a 2-yard gain and somehow turned it into a 12-yard loss by running the wrong way after catching the pass. Patton made up for it with a blocked punt and recovery for a touchdown, though.