Jarryd Hayne found out during warmups that he'd get the first touch among the San Francisco 49ers running backs – an eventual carry that went for four yards on the game's second play from scrimmage.
The rookie running back had a hunch that his first NFL start would turn into his busiest day as a professional football player.
"I wouldn't say I was expecting it, but I was definitely hoping for it," Hayne said postgame. "I was hoping to get the ball in my hands and to be a big part of the game."
In what was eventually a 32-17 loss to the Detroit Lions from Ford Field, Hayne received a career high 14 touches. The Australian took nine carries for 27 yards and secured 5-of-6 targets for 20 receiving yards. Every offensive statistic for Hayne on Sunday set a new career high, including his long run of 11 yards.
The performance came on the heels of being recalled to the active roster on Saturday. Hayne had previously spent six weeks on the team's practice squad.
"It felt great." Hayne said. "Leading up to it, you think about the game and what you want to do in the game about how you want to play and whatnot. At the end of the day, I said to myself that I need to go out there and do what I do.
"I know I'm capable of playing at this level and I have a lot of confidence in my ability. To go out there and perform the way I did today, I think it showed."
In six weeks on the active roster to begin the season, Hayne served primarily as a punt returner and didn't figure into the 49ers offensive gameplan much. His hard work on the practice squad, Hayne said, resulted in added faith from the 49ers coaching staff in his abilities as a running back.
"Oh definitely," he started. "That's just with the amount of reps I've gotten on the scout team and being by myself on the practice squad. That's been huge for me to be able to get that experience. It was invaluable. I obviously had a lot to catch up on. I felt great out there. There were probably one or two things I could have done better, but overall I was happy."
Ultimately, the rookie's individual achievements were overshadowed in another disappointing loss. The 49ers scored their first opening-drive touchdown of the season – a 1-yard pass from Blaine Gabbert to Garrett Celek – but their efforts were spoiled by getting shutout in the second half.
San Francisco's road record for the season finishes at 1-7, and the team has now lost three straight games.
"We hadn't started like that all year, so to come out and get a touchdown on the first drive… We started tremendous, but Detroit did a few things to get the momentum and they ran away with it. It was disappointing," Hayne said. "We came in looking for a win, and we didn't get it."
Hayne and the rest of the 49ers will get one more crack to finish the season on a high note in Week 17 home game against the St. Louis Rams.