Should Jarryd Hayne be the 49ers' primary punt returner?

Jarryd Hayne led the San Francisco 49ers with nine punt returns, one fair catch, and averaged 18.1 yards per return.

The Australian rugby league star-turned NFL player became must-see TV in what is usually an unwatchable preseason, every time he touched the ball becoming a spectacle stateside, an event down under.

But, despite rushing for 175 yards on 25 carries in the preseason, he’s not about to get meaningful touches as a running back ahead of Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush, Mike Davis or even Bruce Miller.

So surely, if Hayne is to be among the 46 active players on gameday, he has to be the primary punt returner, right?

Well, rookie 49ers coach Jim Tomsula was not about to reveal his returners for the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings on ESPN’s Monday Night Football in six days.

“We’ve made a decision, yes,” Tomsula said Tuesday.


“Same group you’ve seen,” he said. “All the guys have done a nice job at that.”

Besides Hayne, undrafted rookie DeAndrew White averaged a team-best 22.8 yards on four punt returns while second-year receiver Bruce Ellington returned three punts and averaged 14.7 yards.

“We’re happy with the group that you’ve seen,” Tomsula said. “There could be more than one [returner]. I don’t want to get into half-truths or splitting hairs, but we are happy with the whole group.”

Hayne also returned one kickoff for 33 yards while White had five for 111 yards and Ellington had two for 41 yards.

Tomsula did, however, have some advice for the players who made the 49ers’ initial 53-man roster, regardless of position or returner status.

“The worst thing you can do is exhale, feel like you made it,” he said. “We’re just getting to the starting line.

“The race, it’s a long race.”