San Francisco 49ers

Cram session: Aussie Jarryd Hayne taking creative approach to learning 49ers playbook

Australian Jarryd Hayne’s biggest hurdle so far with the 49ers: learning an NFL playbook
Australian Jarryd Hayne’s biggest hurdle so far with the 49ers: learning an NFL playbook AP

SANTA CLARA -- Jarryd Hayne's two biggest obstacles since arriving in the United State to attempt to land on an NFL squad: weak coffee and dense playbooks.

The former Australian rugby league star has been tackling the latter with all-day study sessions and by taking a cheat sheet with him onto the practice field.

"It's the first time I've ever seen anybody come out there with a sheet of notes," fellow running back Carlos Hyde said Wednesday. "... It's an actual sheet. He folds it up, puts it right back in his shorts."

Hayne was a star player in his home country and Wednesday's practice session -- the first one open to the media in 2015 -- was attended by nearly as many Australian reporters as American ones.

The 49ers will not have a fully padded, full-contact session until late July. But Hyde expects Hayne to flourish at that point.

"You can tell he's definitely going to run the ball hard," Hyde said. "Rugby definitely got him right. He's gonna be ready when we put the pads on."

When it comes to playing running back, Hayne said the toughest part so far has been learning the protection schemes, something at which rookie runners often struggle. He also has a chance to catch on on special teams, perhaps as a punt returner.

He said the most common questions he's fielded from his new teammates have been: 'Did he play the same sport as the All Blacks?', which is New Zealand's national rugby team, and, 'What are the deadliest animals of Australia?'

There have been some surprises, he said.

Hayne expected American football players to be big but perhaps not big and fast.

"The d-line and o-line I think are probably the biggest difference in how big they are," he said of the difference between rugby and football players. "I didn't realize how agile and how quick some of them are watching from video. I see Joe Staley shooting out of left tackle ... they really move."

And then there’s American coffee, which doesn't have the same bite he's used to.

"If I have a chance to go back, I'm gonna bring an espresso machine or something and bring back some real coffee," he said.

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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