Jarryd Hayne begins second year with the San Francisco 49ers
SANTA CLARA -- Get low!
It's something you constantly hear 49ers coaches barking to their players during practices and was perhaps Jarryd Hayne's greatest challenge as he learned the game last year.
The former Australian Rugby League Star is big and fast. But he wasn't used to lowering his profile and exploding through tacklers like an NFL running back.
Hayne said Wednesday his biggest offseason focus was his hips and glutes.
"It's more the balance as much as anything," he said. "Not so much the strength -- being able to balance out when I go down. Everyone can get low, but you've got to maintain your balance and be able to come out of a cut strong and be able to that at a high speed. Those are the biggest things for me."
While Carlos Hyde is undoubtedly the 49ers' top running back heading into the 2016 season, there is a jumble of un-established players competing for roles behind him. The group includes Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris, Mike Davis, Kendall Gaskins and Hayne, who carried the ball 17 times for 52 yards last season and started the team's Dec. 27 game against the Lions.
While the physical aspect of the NFL remains an obstacle, Hayne said the mental part is coming easier in Year 2. He said he was struggling a bit during his first week back this month as he tried to translate the verbiage of Chip Kelly's system from what he learned last year. But then …
"Over the weekend, it kind of just came to me," he said. "I was understanding it a lot more faster than I was last year."