Jarryd Hayne recovered from a painful start in his San Francisco 49ers season debut to make a solid contribution in their victory against the Minnesota Vikings. All eyes were on the Australian when he attempted to make his first catch of the game in the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, but instead fumbled the ball and gave possession to the rival team. While his error might have cost him some pride, it did not cost his team as they managed to force a turnover a few plays later.
Hayne looked far more comfortable on the field during the rest of the game, which the 49ers won 20 – 3. The former NRL star’s chance at redemption came in the second quarter when he entered the field at running back after an early injury to second choice running back Reggie Bush.
He made a one yard carry with his first touch, before making a reception wide on the right side of the field to get a five yard gain. The real star of the game was Hayne’s roommate, running back Carlos Hyde, who scored the only points of the first half after pulling off a wicked spin move to put himself in open play. Hayne finished the game with four carries, rushing for 13 yards and receiving once for a 7 yard gain, while Hyde ran for 168 yards in an outstanding display.
Hayne was in action at running back in the third quarter when he bumped off would be tacklers as he rushed up the middle of the field for an impressive nine yard gain. The commentators spoke excitedly of Hayne’s skillset and contribution to the 49ers. “Yeah he starts off weak with the dropped punt, but now he clips off nine,” one said. “I think the San Francisco 49ers organisation is excited about who they have on the roster.”
Fellow running back Hyde, playing in his second season at the 49ers, rounded out his dominating performance to run a 17 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the team a winning start to their season. Last week Hayne had spoken repeatedly of his desire to keep his pads low in an effort to make it more difficult for defenders to make tackles, and during the game it appeared he was utilising the skill effectively. Earlier this week Super Bowl winning coach Dick Vermeil, who guided Philadelphia and St Louis to the NFL title, told the Daily Telegraph Hayne’s experience in the NFL will exceed anything he has experienced at Origin or Test level. “Jarryd Hayne is about to experience an emotional sensation beyond his expectation,’ Vermeil said.