Jarryd Hayne Focused on Steady Growth as Second NFL Season Nears

Jarryd Hayne's rookie season in the NFL played out a lot like a movie.

The former rugby league MVP left behind stardom in Australia for obscurity in America – and proved many critics wrong in the process. Now back stateside after three months away from the game, Hayne is striving to ensure the sequel to his remarkable debut isn't a letdown.

"I put more pressure on myself than anybody else," Hayne told reporters on Wednesday. "I learned a lot last year, and I have the blueprint now. It's about going out there, perfecting the playbook, understanding the schemes we're running and executing at a high level."

In 2015, Hayne appeared in eight games for the San Francisco 49ers – rushing for 52 yards on 17 carries, catching six passes for 27 yards and returning eight punts for 76 yards.

The 28-year-old is hopeful that he'll be able to make an even bigger splash this fall. In fact, a moment of clarity washed over Hayne recently to that regard.

After completing the first four days of the offseason program last week, Hayne had Friday off to clear his mind. When he returned to studying film and the playbook a day later, something momentous happened in his eyes.

Follow behind-the-scenes shots from the former Australian rugby league star's transition to running back for the San Francisco 49ers.

"It kind of just came to me – I was understanding everything a lot faster than I did last year," Hayne said. "It was very satisfying. You get a lot of enjoyment with that. It was weird, but it felt great."

Although Hayne rightfully feels more comfortable in his environment this time around, his sophomore season won't be without its challenges. As alluded to above, the running back will have to learn a new, fast-paced system with the arrival of Chip Kelly.

"It's a learning curve," Hayne said. "But to be able to come in and know what to expect, that helps. I'm a lot more ready to learn straight away.

"I know the basics, so it's just trying to fit what I learned last year and put it into what we're learning this year."

Hayne added that he has watched film of the Philadelphia Eagles to better grasp Kelly's philosophies. Also helping ease the transition is his position coach, Tom Rathman, who the 49ers retained from the previous staff.

"I'm just taking it as it comes and enjoying the process," Hayne said. "I really like watching how the scheme works and learning what the coaches are looking for. I'm embracing it and making sure I'm ready to execute when we take the things we're learning and put them on the field.

"It's one thing to know it in the classroom, but it's another when you're out there and things are fast. That's what really matters."

The 49ers are likely to enter training camp with plenty of depth at running back. Aside from Hayne, the team also employs Pierre Garçon, Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris, Mike Davis and Kendall Gaskins – all of whom contributed in some fashion in 2015. San Francisco could also add to that list in the draft, as it currently owns a league-high 12 picks.

"It's going to be a big year for him to show improvement and that he understands the nuances," veteran left tackle Joe Staley said. "It's going into Year 2 for him, so he kind of knows what to expect going forward. It's good, but he's also not going to have as much leniency."

To better his chances of sticking with the team, Hayne put in work this offseason to address one of the most common criticisms of his game.

"Being able to get low," Hayne said. "I'm tall, so it makes it even harder. It's more the balance when I get down. Anybody can get low, but it's about being able to maintain your balance as you come out of a cut strong and do it at a high speed."

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