11 Sep 2015

Hayne's NFL debut unlikely

3:39 pm on 11 September 2015

Jarryd Hayne may be a long shot to play for San Francisco in their NFL season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, despite being named in the 49ers squad.

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Jarryd Hayne of the San Francisco 49ers in drill during practice , preparing for Monday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images/AFP

Jarryd Hayne in pre-season training Photo: AFP

The man known as the Hayne Plane could be grounded after 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula and special teams co-ordinator Thomas McGaughey did their best to dampen the hype around Hayne.

The pair repeatedly pointed out that former league star Hayne was a rookie who still had plenty to learn about American football.

Hayne, they said, had made extraordinary progress but was only a member of the 53-man squad and yet to earn a spot on the field in a regular season game.

"I don't want to take anything away from what the man has achieved but all he's achieved was an opportunity to be in the locker room," Tomsula said.

McGaughey talked up DeAndrew White, one of the 49ers challenging Hayne for the punt return job.

"Everybody is flying the Hayne Plane right now but if you look at who led our team in punt returns in the pre-season, it wasn't Jarryd Hayne," McGaughey said. "It was DeAndrew White."

The back-to-back press conferences in an auditorium in the bowels of the 49ers' Levi's Stadium seemed designed to lower the expectations of the former Australian NRL star's growing army of fans and prepare them for Hayne sitting out Tuesday's clash (NZT).

Only 46 players will be named in the game-day squad.

Jarryd Hayne playing for the San Francisco 49ers 2015.

Jarryd Hayne playing for the San Francisco 49ers 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

However, some media wondered if the sobering words about Hayne were a trick.

The theory was Tomsula and McGaughey were pointing out Hayne's inexperience as part of a plan to fool the Vikings into thinking Hayne wouldn't play but then unleashing him.

The 49ers can keep their squad secret until 90 minutes before the game.

McGaughey, who has overseen Hayne's role as a punt and kick returner, said he was "a heck of a player, very talented, a young player but needs to mature a little bit as far as getting experience."

There seem to be questions about whether Hayne could handle the pressure of the NFL's first Monday Night Football game - a nationally televised event in the US.

McGaughey described the four pre-season games Hayne excelled in as a paintball fight but in the regular season there would be "real bullets flying".

Hayne was not available to speak to reporters but team-mate and rival for Hayne's running back and punt return positions, Reggie Bush, said he was ready to play the Vikings despite a shaky pre-season.

"You'll see Monday night," Bush smiled.