The 49ers elevated the guy from down under.
Jarryd Hayne, who began the season on their 53-man roster but was demoted to the practice squad in October, will be in uniform Sunday against the Detroit Lions. To make room, the team placed guard Alex Boone (knee) on injured reserve Saturday.
Hayne captivated the NFL – and electrified his native Australia – during the preseason when he made several explosive plays at running back and especially punt returner.
He didn’t get that kind of reception when the regular season began, however. Hayne flubbed three punts, losing one, during the first six games, although he did post a solid 9.5-yard average on returns.
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Hayne was a star in Australia’s National Rugby League but a novice at NFL football. As a result, he earned only a few snaps at running back, carrying eight times for 25 yards.
The 49ers’ injuries at the position will give him another chance. The team already has lost starter Carlos Hyde (foot) and top backup Reggie Bush (knee) for the season. Replacement Shaun Draughn, who has started the last six games, is dealing with a knee injury, and rookie Mike Davis (hand) cannot rejoin the team until after Sunday’s game.
Aside from Hayne, the only healthy running backs on the roster are Kendall Gaskins and DuJuan Harris, who was signed last week.
The 49ers will have the rights to Hayne for the 2016 season if he is on their active roster after Week 17. If not, they likely will offer him a future/reserve contract that, if signed, would make him a 49er when the 2016 season begins. Hayne said last week he’s made significant strides in the sport and he’s eager to return to the NFL next season.
Boone has been a four-year starter at guard. He suffered an MCL sprain two weeks ago that will not require surgery. Boone is due to become an unrestricted free agent in March and thus far has not been able to strike a deal with the 49ers.