Jarryd Hayne knows how to give and take a hit. But he hasn’t done it in pads.
Hayne, the Australian rugby player who is trying to make it as a running back on the 49ers, has shown impressive athleticism in offseason work. But running backs coach Tom Rathman says that until they can see him in pads, the 49ers really won’t have any idea whether Hayne can play American football.
“I don’t think he’s really going to be able to do anything about it until he starts playing real football, until they start playing ‘bang,'” Rathman told the Sacramento Bee. “I’m hoping that he’ll figure it out pretty quick then.”
Rathman says there’s only so much you can tell about how well a player adjusts to the game when that player is just working out in shorts.
“Getting down low, accelerating through that target,” Rathman said. “It’ll be interesting. I haven’t seen him hit the sled because obviously we haven’t had pads. I think I know what I’m going to see.”
Hayne is one of the NFL’s most intriguing prospects, and he drew interest from several teams for his raw talent. But it’s anyone’s guess whether he can actually play football. The 49ers won’t know that until training camp, at the earliest.