Warning to Australian NFL fans: 49ers rookie running back Jarryd Hayne, who was inactive for the first time this season Thursday, may not be in uniform Sunday in St. Louis, either.
Hayne’s main role through the first six games was as a punt returner, but in last Thursday’s game against the Seahawks, the job went to Reggie Bush, and it appears the veteran will remain in that role.
“I feel very comfortable with him,” 49ers special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey Jr. said Wednesday. “As long as Reggie feels comfortable, I feel comfortable, and he feels really comfortable doing it. We’ve just got to do a better job of sustaining our blocks and giving him a little room to work.”
Bush, who missed most of the first six games because of a calf injury, only had one return – for nine yards – against Seattle. It was the first time he had returned a punt since 2011, when he was with the Dolphins.
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Hayne has averaged 9.5 yards per return, but he muffed or fumbled three opportunities, losing one of them in Week 1 against the Vikings.
Hayne, a former star in Australia’s National Rugby League who is wildly popular Down Under, has been behind Carlos Hyde, Bush and fellow rookie Mike Davis at running back, another reason he was inactive against Seattle.
Said Tomsula, when asked why Hayne didn’t play: “That was just getting to our 46-man roster and trying to make sure we had people up there that we needed right now.”
Friend to foe – A face familiar to many 49ers fans will be on the Rams sideline Sunday. During the offseason, St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher hired former quarterback Jeff Garcia as an assistant to work with the team’s receivers.
“He’s giving the quarterback perspective to the receivers, and he’s done a great job,” Fisher said during a conference call. “Oh, by the way – they’re catching a lot of balls in practice. When you have somebody like Jeff Garcia throwing balls to your receivers in pre-practice and warmups and individual (drills), it gives them a chance.”
Garcia, 45, played five seasons with the 49ers and made three Pro Bowls while with the team. He also campaigned to mentor 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the offseason, but that job went to Phoenix-based EXOS sports.
Fisher said he’s been impressed with his new assistant’s arm.
“He can still play, by the way,” Fisher said. “No doubt.”
Award-winning efforts – Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett won the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week award after his 3 1/2 sacks against the 49ers.
Bennett is the fourth player to win one of the weekly awards this season after playing against the 49ers. The others: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu and Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Et cetera – X-rays of Kaepernick’s thumb on his throwing hand revealed no breaks after the Seahawks game. The 49ers quarterback said the thumb was swollen for a while but is fine now.
▪ Tomsula said center Daniel Kilgore (ankle), who remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list, will start “pushing sleds and things” this week, but he will remain inactive. Kilgore could be activated after the 49ers’ Nov. 15 bye.
▪ Running back Carlos Hyde (foot) and linebacker NaVorro Bowman (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday, which likely will be the case for the rest of the season.