The ‘Hayne Plane’ had trouble landing safely in a strong wind.
Jarryd Hayne, one of the few bright spots in a ho-hum preseason for the 49ers, muffed his first punt-return attempt Monday night when he misjudged the wind at his back and was replaced by Bruce Ellington.
Hayne’s removal, however, was related to his added duties on offense after running back Reggie Bush left the game in the first quarter with a left calf injury and did not return. Jim Tomsula later said the injury did not appear serious but that the team would reevaluate the veteran running back this week. Bush’s was the only injury the team reported.
With rookie Mike Davis inactive for the game, starter Carlos Hyde and Hayne were the 49ers’ only healthy running backs for most of the contest.
Hayne had four carries for 13 yards and caught one pass for seven yards.
On his first punt-return attempt, the Australian newcomer dived for the ball in his usual aggressive matter but could not gather it in. The Vikings recovered at their 43-yard line. Their drive, however, stalled when they came up short on fourth down at San Francisco’s 31-yard line.
A wind that gusted to 25 mph may have factored into Minnesota’s decision not to go for a field goal and on Hayne’s flub. It was blowing out of the southwest Monday night instead of its usual pattern from the northwest.
“I hadn’t seen it blowing like that before,” Hayne said after the game. “That was a bit different. We hadn’t witnessed that before. That’s not an excuse. We’ve got to catch those. The punter just put it up there. He wanted the wind to catch it, and it did.”
The oddball weather had kicker Phil Dawson concerned in the run-up to the game.
“This camp I’ve only got to kick in (Levi’s Stadium) three times,” he said Saturday. “The forecast calls for southwest winds, which I’ve never seen. I’ve got to treat it like a road game, get in there and feel it out.”
Hayne was back for the next two punts. But the first went out of bounds, and the second, an 11-yard return, was called back because of a penalty. Ellington got the call on the re-kick. His 85-yard return was wiped away by an illegal block in the back.
Tomsula said he went with Ellington at punt returner for the rest of the game because Hayne was needed on offense. He said the flub wouldn’t have prompted a change.
“No sir,” Tomsula said. “Play football and some things will happen. Jarryd has got the mindset, in my mind, that he’ll overcome (setbacks).”
Indeed, Hayne said the situation was similar to an error he made in the 2007 State of Origin game in rugby league, which is typically the most-watched sporting event in Australia. The lesson: Just move on.
“It was kind of similar. It was like, (‘Shoot), I didn’t want that to happen,’” he said. “It was a bit similar.”
Seeing yellow-- Jim Tomsula said he wasn’t happy with the eight penalties for 57 yards the 49ers were given, seven of which came in the first half. The 49ers did not have any delay of game penalties, but some of the plays weren’t run as quickly as Tomsula, who stressed tempo above all else this offseason, wanted.
“We got off track on the clock down there in the red zone,” he said. “That’s inexcusable.”
Seven sit – Newcomer Nick Easton and outside linebacker Corey Lemonier, who appeared in all 16 games his first two seasons in the league, were among the seven players the 49ers declared inactive before the game. The 49ers traded for Easton, a center, earlier this month.
The group also included Davis, who presumably was competing with Hayne for playing time, cornerback Shareece Wright, wide receiver DeAndrew White, nose tackle Mike Purcell and guard Brandon Thomas.
That meant rookie draft picks Ian Silberman and Trent Brown were the backups on the offensive line, Silberman at center and guard and Brown at right tackle. Fellow rookie Eli Harold was the only backup at outside linebacker.
Former owner awed – Eddie DeBartolo Jr. said it was “unbelievable” that his ticket to the Pro Football Hall of Fame could be punched in the region where he had so much success.
DeBartolo, the former 49ers owner, was nominated this month as a contributor to the game. Hall of Fame voters will decide on the 2016 finalists just before Super Bowl 50, which will be held in Santa Clara on Feb. 7. There are no other nominees in the contributor category.
DeBartolo owned the 49ers for 23 years, including a 14-year stretch from 1981 to 1994 when the team won five Super Bowls. Those teams were led by players like Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott, all of whom were on hand Monday to celebrate former defensive end Charles Haley’s induction into the 49ers Hall of Fame. Haley was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month.
“It’s almost unbelievable,” DeBartolo said of possibly being in the Hall of Fame. “It’s the 50th Super Bowl; we have five Super Bowls. And it’s being held here in the Bay Area. All I can say is I’m blown away, I’m hopeful, I’m honored and humbled.”
Monday was DeBartolo’s first visit to Levi’s Stadium.
“It’s Star Wars,” he said of the modern facility. “... I know Jed (York) worked his butt off – and everybody in the organization. It’s really something. Compared to Candlestick (Park), and you could even go back to good old Kezar (Stadium) ... I’m at a loss for words.”
Et cetera – Cornerback Kenneth Acker, who spent his rookie season last year on the sideline with a foot injury, started the game opposite Tramaine Brock. Acker mostly covered Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson. Brock had an interception in the fourth quarter.
▪ First-round draft pick Arik Armstead entered the game on nickel downs along with fellow rookie Jaquiski Tartt and fellow defensive tackle Tank Carradine. Tartt had a 14-yard sack in the first quarter. Another draft pick, Bradley Pinion, handled both the punts and kickoffs in the game.
▪ NaVorro Bowman gave the team’s pregame speech, an honor fellow inside linebacker Patrick Willis had in previous seasons. Bowman had one of five sacks on the evening. Carradine, Tartt, Antoine Bethea and Aaron Lynch had the others.
* Receiver Torrey Smith, who had one catch for five yards in the preseason, caught the first pass of the game for 11 yards. He was targeted two more times but did not have another reception.