Jarryd Hayne's remarkable football journey continued Thursday night at Levi's® Stadium.
The Australian import totaled a game-high 58 rushing yards in a 14-12 victory for the San Francisco 49ers over the San Diego Chargers. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound running back had a busy night in front of family members who made the cross-continental trek to watch him play.
Hayne carried the ball 10 times. He caught two passes for 17 yards. He returned three punts for 43 yards. He even produced a special teams tackle as a gunner on San Francisco's punt coverage team.
But what was the 27-year-old rookie most pleased with after his fourth preseason contest?
His pad level.
"For the first time, I was comfortable getting the pads low, which was good," said Hayne, who finished the preseason with 25 carries for 178 yards and an average of 7.0 yards per carry.
Hayne told reporters that he expected greater playing time going into the preseason finale. The former Australian rugby league star added that he aimed to show everyone what he's learned in his first NFL training camp.
The rookie credited San Francisco's starting running back for aiding his development.
"Pierre Garçon has been helping me a lot," Hayne shared. "He's taken me under his wing. We're roomies, so he's been telling me how to run – how to do it the American style – so it's been good."
Hayne's NFL-style running was on display after a 12-yard reception in the third quarter. Hayne caught a dump-off screen pass from Dylan Thompson and finished off the run by charging into San Diego cornerback Lowell Rose.
Hayne's powerful moment took place right in front of the 49ers bench.
"I've just worked hard from where I want to go and where I want to be as an NFL player," Hayne said. "To come out tonight and lower my pads, get low, and get through tackles, that was something I tried to emphasize through the week. I think that was probably my most complete performance with everything we've been coached up to do."
Hayne's experiences with the 49ers have been well-documented in two countries. Hayne, however, is now like every other member of the 75-man roster. He'll have one more practice on Friday before the 53-man roster is announced on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT.
Hayne's long-term prospects with the 49ers will be known by then. But when he was asked to predict his football future, the rookie, who plans to spend time with his family this weekend, wisely offered this thought: "The future is always exciting when you don't know what's going to happen. ... Whatever happens, happens. I don't control the future. And if I don't control it, then I try not to worry about it."
Throughout the offseason, the major emphasis for a football beginner like Hayne was all about adapting to a new style of play. After all, rugby league is similar to NFL football, but there are several noticeable differences.
By the end of Hayne's preseason experience with the 49ers, he appeared to be like many of his teammates: His uniform was tattered as he did a postgame press conference. He had used his pads effectively.
For Hayne, it was another positive development in his hopes of making the team.
"I've been pleased to see what I've done," the rookie said. "It's been a journey as well. I'm just excited as anyone else to get out on the field at Levi's® Stadium in front of the fans, run around and catch passes.
"It's been great. It's been such a life-filled journey. It's been a great experience. I wouldn't change it for the world. Everything has been above and beyond everything I could have expected."