After being hounded by persistent members of the Australian (and sometimes local) press, a member of the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff has finally offered some straight talk about Jarryd Hayne.
While coach Jim Tomsula dances around questions asked about the ex-NRL star, special teams coach Thomas McGaughey spoke at length about Hayne's progress during a press conference yesterday.
A member of the press asked McGaughey about Hayne's role in special teams, and specifically how much practice he was getting on punt returns.
McGaughey gave a detailed and refreshingly frank answer, declaring Hayne "needs to learn how to play football" and stating he was impressed by Hayne's pre-season form, but "it just didn’t work out."
Not so much punt return. Obviously we’ll keep those skills honed with him, the punt return stuff. He needs to learn how to play football. Learn how to run, cover kicks and protect punts. That kind of stuff, that’s gonna be invaluable for him, with his overall skill development. He has a ton of ability, he just needs to learn the game. Like all aspects of the game: Playing on the scout team, playing possibly as a line backer. He just needs to learn the game from the inside-out. Most of these guys grew up, they played both ways when they were in junior high or high school, (they) get a full understanding of the game.
When you just kinda come in like ‘OK I’m a punt returner’ or ‘I just play running back’, you don’t really know all the nuances of the game. I think getting out there, playing on the scout team, running down on the kick off, being on the kick off return team, having a block set, having a ball in your hand, you kind of understand the whole thing, you see the big picture.
Obviously from what he did in the pre-season, he did some good stuff. He put some good stuff on tape, so we thought that he had skills enough to be a punt returner, and … it just didn’t work out. He needs to learn how to play the game of football.
The honest answer serves as a wake-up call for the many fans of Jarryd Hayne who, via social media, constantly demand the 49ers give the former Eel more time on the field.
From McGaughey's assessment, it seems we may have seen the last of Hayne on the field for this season. With more time on the scout team learning the game though, anything is possible for next year.