Jarryd Hayne, who electrified his native Australia in his bid to make an NFL club this summer, was waived by the 49ers on Saturday. Practice squad player Kendall Gaskins was added to the 53-man roster to bolster the team’s dwindling running backs corps.
The 49ers will be without starter Carlos Hyde on Sunday and possibly beyond after Hyde suffered a stress fracture in his left foot on Oct. 11. Reggie Bush, Mike Davis and presumably Gaskins, who averaged 2.6 yards a carry in the preseason, will be on hand for Sunday’s game against the Rams. Gaskins also has experience as a tight end and likely will appear on the 49ers’ coverage units.
Hayne, meanwhile, made the initial squad based on several big plays in the preseason, primarily on special teams. He was the 49ers’ primary punt returner through the first six weeks.
He averaged a respectable 9.5 per return, but he either muffed or fumbled three opportunities, losing one, in each of the team’s first three home games and was inactive for last week’s loss to the Seahawks. The 49ers also suggested Hayne, as would be expected for a newcomer to American football, was not sharp enough in pass protection, which is why he had scant carries this season despite injuries at running back.
Hayne had eight carries as a running back, gaining 25 yards. That 3.1 average far exceeds Davis’ 1.3-yard average in 15 attempts. Davis and Bush are expected to get most of the snaps Sunday.
Based on the timing on Hayne’s release, the 49ers seem likely to try to add Hayne to their practice squad. However, they cannot do so until Monday, and he must first pass through waivers. Other teams will have a chance to sign him to their 53-man roster before then.
Along with the 49ers, the Lions and Seahawks tried in the offseason to sign Hayne, a former star in Australia’s rugby league. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll suggested last week that he and his staff had had creative plans for Hayne.
“We thought he really could be a highlighted player,” Carroll said on a conference call with 49ers reporters. “And we had a lot of thoughts about how we were going to use him.”