49ers Jarryd Hayne Discusses Move from Rugby League to NFL

NFL rookies and their playbooks are supposed to be inseparable – attached at the hip if you will.

When it comes to Jarryd Hayne, however, it appears the Australian import is taking that sentiment somewhat literal.

"He actually goes out to walk-through with a cheat sheet," fellow running back Pierre Garçon said. "He folds it up and puts it in his shorts.

"That's the first time I've ever seen anyone go out there with a sheet of notes."

A bit unusual, yes, but Hayne's "open book" practice ritual is certainly understandable.

Take a look at some of the most notable images that were snapped at the San Francisco 49ers voluntary minicamp.

Surrounded by world-class athletes who have played football their entire lives, the 27-year-old is just a few weeks into his football career.  Hayne, a former Australian rugby league MVP, left his childhood sport and signed with the 49ers this offseason to chase a dream of playing in the NFL.

Now he's faced with the task of learning the complex verbiage, blocking schemes, routes and sheer quantity of plays in an NFL playbook.

Hayne addressed that challenge on Wednesday, speaking to a split crowd of Australian and U.S. media for the first time since joining the 49ers.

"I always knew that was going to be the biggest hurdle," Hayne said. "It's obviously been a huge learning experience. Every day there's more plays coming that I have to know."

Physically, Hayne said he feels fine enduring the rigors of 49ers practices – this week marks the team's first minicamp of the offseason. The mental side is a different story though, especially in regards to a skill that eludes many young running backs in the NFL.

"The biggest thing is protection. You have to understand that first and foremost," Hayne said. "My main concern is knowing where to be at the right time."

Back at home, Hayne is one of the most popular athletes in the country. Dubbed "the LeBron James of rugby league," Hayne turned down what would have been a record-setting contract had he remained in Australia.

Stateside with the 49ers, Hayne is just another name trying to crack the 53-man roster. And that's how he likes it.

"Part of this experience was that humbling of myself," Hayne said. "I want to be a person that takes on challenges and not put any limits on what I can do and what I can achieve.  From being in spotlight at a young age in Australia, it's very refreshing coming over here and just chipping away."

Hayne's new teammates don't treat him any differently – except for the occasional question about kangaroos and/or his accent, which he admits is difficult to understand sometimes when he speaks too fast.

Mostly though, Hayne's fellow 49ers have been quietly impressed with the work the newcomer has put in already.

"He's got some learning to do but I think he's been catching on pretty quick," Hyde said. "You can tell he's definitely going to run the ball hard. Rugby definitely got him right, so he's going to be ready to put the pads on."

Added wide receiver Torrey Smith: "He's a heck of an athlete. I've been able to watch him run around and I'm very impressed. He's smart, too. He fits in very well." 

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