San Francisco 49ers

49ers RB Jarryd Hayne’s offseason project: his hips

Jarryd Hayne begins second year with the San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers running back talks about the team's system and his physical conditioning.
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The 49ers running back talks about the team's system and his physical conditioning.

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."

A lot has happened in two years. In this video from the summer of 2015, during the San Francisco 49ers mini-camp, the mood is light in the locker room. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick bonds with new teammate Jarryd Hayne, the former rugby star from A

49er fans are passionate and emotional

​San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne, the former Australian Rugby League star, is adjusting to the NFL and American football after several weeks of training camp and a preseason game against the Houston Texans. Video by Manny Crisostomo,

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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