Jim Tomsula: Jarryd Hayne 'represented himself well' in first NFL start

The 49ers' Jarryd Hayne carried the ball nine times for 27 yards in his first NFL start. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Jarryd Hayne, the Australian rugby league convert, arrived in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers with much pomp and, as coach Jim Tomsula once said, "stance" in making an NFL roster out of training camp.

His jersey was a top seller in the league in September and he was the 49ers' opening night starter at punt returner. Every time he touched the ball, collective breaths were held.

Until the 49ers waived him on Halloween, after six games and some costly fumbles.

But when no other team claimed him off waivers, Hayne was signed to the 49ers practice squad, where he languished until Sunday at Detroit.

It was against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field where Hayne made his first NFL start at running back. It created excitement back home Down Under, but Hayne also caused a little consternation with his play in the 49ers' 32-17 loss to the Lions after getting so many reps in practice playing opposing backs for the first-team defense.

"So that's been huge for for me to be able to get that experience," he said. "It's invaluable because I've got, obviously, so much to catch up on and, I think, today I felt great out there and probably one or two things that I could have done better. But overall I was happy."

One of those things to improve on would have been running a pattern deeper or, at least, to the sticks on a fourth-and-3 opportunity in the fourth quarter when he only picked up two yards on a reception.

"It was going to be a bang-bang play," quarterback Blaine Gabbert said. "Their linebacker did a good job kind of stuffing off the shallow cross and we knew it was close. But it's a game of inches and we fell short."

Might more football experience have helped Hayne in that situation? Probably, but with only one game left in the season, his opportunities will be fewer, especially if starting running back Shaun Draughn is healthy enough to play against the St. Louis Rams at Levi's Stadium come Sunday.

"Jarryd's just got to get to the sticks, man," Tomsula said. "He's got to run that route to the sticks. It's just what has to happen."

Until then, there's this: Hayne carried the ball nine times for 27 yards and also caught five passes for 20 yards. He did not return a punt or a kickoff against the Lions.

"Obviously, got a lot of work and just kept on doing what I'm doing in the meeting room and outside of football as well," Hayne said. "So I think that's where we see some shine."

Hayne also put out the following on social media:

Tomsula, meanwhile, stayed away from the pomp and, yes, circumstance when it came to Hayne.

"I thought he represented himself well," Tomsula said.