Jarryd Hayne Reflects on Growth since Joining 49ers Practice Squad

Let's get this out of the way first: Jarryd Hayne wants to be with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016.

"Oh definitely," he told reporters on Friday.

The rookie running back added that he has no intention of giving up on his transition from the National Rugby League to the NFL.

"It's been exciting," Hayne said. "If I can come this far in seven months, give me 12-14 and it's going to be completely different. I think anyone that's trained with me or has seen my growth will tell you how much I've changed and developed."

The conversations about a Reserve/Future contract haven't taken place yet with three weeks still remaining in the regular season. Hayne is in no hurry, saying, "That's not a concern at the moment."

Hayne began the season on the team's 53-man roster and was active for the first six games. The rookie was inactive against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7 before being waived ahead of a Week 8 road game against the St. Louis Rams. 

In six games of action, Hayne served primarily as a punt returner. He posted eight returns for 76 yards. Hayne's long of 37 yards still stands as the longest punt return for San Francisco this season. Hayne also ran for 25 yards on eight carries and caught one pass for seven yards.

The 49ers brought the Australian back the week following his release as a member of the club's practice squad.

As a competitor, Hayne was frustrated with the demotion. However, the running back understands the decision.

"It's just about perfecting it on a consistent and high-level basis," he said. "That's something I've realized."

Hayne took the move in stride and has capitalized on his increased reps as a focal point of the scout team.

"These six weeks I've been on the practice squad, I've learned so much," Hayne said. "Two weeks ago, I literally took every single rep on the look squad. That was huge."

The running back has also seen scout-team reps at wide receiver, which Hayne called, "great fun."

Hayne has even seen time at safety and linebacker. He said he's appreciated experiencing things from a defensive perspective. Hayne reiterated to reporters that there are periods in practice in which he won't leave the field. He'll move from offense to defense and back again, over and over.

The one position that Hayne hasn't been working on much is punt returner. Hayne said he wasn't concerned about the lack of reps as a return man since that position is his "most natural."

Hayne has seen steady progress at all other aspects of his game as a running back. And although he'd love another crack at playing on gameday this season, that's not changing how he approaches each day of practice. 

"I feel great," Hayne said. "I feel 10 times more confident than I did six weeks ago when I was actually playing. It's day and night. I know I've just got to be patient. If I get the call up then I get the call up, and if I don't then I don't. It's all about being ready and training hard."

Watching the tape is always the most rewarding part of the week. The film room is not only Hayne's classroom to expand his football IQ, but a reminder of how far he's come in less than a year's time.

"It's always funny looking at old film," Hayne laughed. "It's one of those awkward things. You go, 'What was I thinking? What was I doing?' It's hilarious. To think how much different it's going to be in another 12 months, it's going to be incredible."

Outside of football, Hayne has enjoyed his new home in the Bay Area. The running back compared the climate to that of Sydney and he even gotten to explore the Northern California beaches to give surfing a try.

Hayne will return home to Australia in the offseason, and he said he looks forward to reflecting on the whirlwind that was 2015.

"You always enjoy new experiences and new adventures," Hayne said. "This has been the most incredible adventure that I've ever been on. I'll always put it in perspective of where I've come from and how far I've come."

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