Jarryd Hayne isn't nervous about his first training camp as an NFL football player. Certainly the bright lights at Levi's® Stadium won't be too big of a stage for the man who became a superstar in the Australian Rugby League.
Hayne will be, however, one of the most talked about players on the San Francisco 49ers roster throughout the next six weeks. One of the 49ers most documented free-agent signings this offseason is continuing his transition to American football as a running back and return man on special teams.
With one practice in the books, it was a quiet, yet solid start for Hayne. The 'back didn't get a ton of reps during the team periods behind Pierre Garçon and Kendall Hunter (Reggie Bush didn't participate), but he did make a few catches out of the backfield.
The Australian made progress during OTAs and minicamp in terms of learning the schemes and verbiage used in football as well as the running style required of a running back. While spending the rest of his summer in his home country, Hayne used the free time to recharge the batteries but made sure to not completely remove himself from football.
"During the break, I was still studying, still looking through my playbook and going through the plays and the protections," Hayne said. "It's still a process and something I'm enjoying."
Hayne also underwent minor foot surgery to correct an issue that hampered him throughout the offseason program. After spending all of OTAs dealing with the discomfort and having to put a massive pad under his foot, the 'back is now running pain-free for camp.
"It went really well," Hayne said. "The recovery hurt more than anything, not running for three weeks. That's taken its time. I'm still getting my speed and fitness back but I'm at about 80 to 90 percent, which is good."
Hayne is still working out the kinks in his running style. The rookie said he's addressed the issue in his workouts, focusing on core and hip movements to loosen up his hips. Added flexibility will allow him to get lower as a ball carrier.
Still, Hayne knows there's going to be a moment where he comes through the line of scrimmage and finds NaVorro Bowman waiting for him.
"It's going to take time," Hayne said. "I'm sure there are going to be times when I get smashed because I'm running too upright. That's part of the learning curve. I don't have fear in that. I'd rather get hit hard and learn like that than beat around the bush. It's one way you learn from your mistakes."
View the best photos of Jarryd Hayne in his first offseason program as a professional football player.
During camp, Hayne will room with fellow running back Hyde, who is entering his second season with the 49ers. While Hyde is curious about Hayne's rugby league stories, Hayne is grilling his roommate about how to pick up a blitzing linebacker.
"It's all about technique," said Hayne. "That's something I asked Carlos about, what technique he uses. Different linebackers blitz differently. Nick Moody likes to run through everyone. Desmond Bishop is really good on his feet. … It's a process and that's one of the final steps in kind of figuring out everything I need to do."
Hayne's hat is still in the ring for the 49ers kick- and punt-return competitions, but he admitted that his focus has been primarily placed on his responsibilities as a running back. The read and react nature of being a return man is nowhere near as complex to the intricacies of being an NFL ball-carrier.
Another learning curve that Hayne isn't worried about is his development as a receiver out of the backfield. One reporter asked about Colin Kaepernick's big arm and the difficulties that might come from one of Kap's fastballs.
He showed Saturday night that his hands won't be a problem.
"You just know that if the ball is coming your way, it's coming fast," Hayne said.