From NRL to NFL?

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Jarryd Hayne is getting his shot to make an NFL roster. Hayne was the best rugby player in Australia before he retired to chase his dream of making it in the NFL. This spring he will get his chance when he shows up for camp with San Francisco 49ers.

We haven’t covered here at Sideline Signals and we’re not going to pretend that we know anything about this guy. What we do know is that he has been working out in the US in an attempt to make a roster and that he has the size and speed of an H-Back or possibly a return specialist. In other words, stranger things have happened.

Hayne went to the right place though. New 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula coached in NFL Europe and has experience working with international players. While Tomsula will have his plate full with his first NFL head coaching gig, he obviously has the patience to teach and motivate someone like Hayne.

The 49ers organization also has a track record of moving players to other positions (fullback Bruce Miller who was CUSA Defensive Player of the Year as a defensive end or former running back Michael Robinson who was a quarterback at Penn State). The 49ers are also one of the few teams out there that need an utilize their fullback position. It was a big blow to the team a few years ago when Miller went down before the playoffs. Hayne could fill a backup fullback role if everything goes really well.

Hayne’s biggest issue may just be the numbers. Is there a roster spot for a guy with such a big learning curve? Obviously his best chance is going to be on special teams. First as a gunner on punt cover and possibly as a returner. If he tackles and learns to block effectively then he has a shot to sway the numbers in his favor. At the minimum, he could make the practice team.

The fact is this, Hayne has got as good of shot as anybody. Injuries are a part of football and if someone goes down here or there and Hayne proves that he is a quick study then he could make the active roster. It’s a long shot this season but it’s still a shot. Give the 49ers credit for taking a chance and believing that someone can transition from one sport to another.