The Courier-Mail

49er’s coach says ‘I’ve seen what I need to see’ DREAM ALIVE

- NICK WALSHAW

JARRYD Hayne has been given a resounding endorsemen­t five days out from his NFL dream, with head coach Jim Tomsula declaring he has proven his abilities on the field.

Despite his attempts to quell Haynemania, San Francisco 49ers coach Tomsula sparked fresh hope for Hayne fans yesterday when asked what his rookie punt returner needed to do to seal a deal in the final pre-season trial against San Diego on Friday.

“I’m confident in Jarryd’s ability to field the ball,’’ Tomsula said. “I’ve watched a ton of tape on him fielding a rugby ball.

“I’ve seen him field here at practice. I’ve seen him field in games. So I feel very good about his abilities to field, to perform with a ball in his hands on special teams ... I’ve seen what I need to see.”

Despite averaging more than 21 yards on punt returns in the opening two trials against Houston and Dallas, Hayne was given only one chance on Sunday against Denver – carrying strongly for a gain of 12 yards.

Tomsula stressed the Australian’s limited game time was more about his coaching staff getting a better look at Reggie Bush, Bruce Ellington and DeAndrew White as the trio played their return games. Bush returned just once, for a gain of four yards, while also letting another kick bounce.

Social media lit up during the game, with Niners fans arguing the merits of Hayne versus the Super Bowl winner. While Bush was tipped to get first crack as the punt returner – the role Ellington held last year – it now seems both men could be used elsewhere with the job going to Hayne.

Senior 49ers beat writers Cam Inman, Matt Maiocco and Chris Binderman have all predicted Hayne will make roster as the No.1 punt returner.

“I think the job is Jarryd’s, I really do,’’ Inman said. “I’m still trying to withhold a little, thinking maybe we’re all too embedded in this thing.

“All thinking Jarryd is doing great but not seeing those little things the football staff do. And they might think he’s too inexperien­ced to take a risk on.

“But it really seems obvious to so many of us ... Jarryd just looks really, really comfortabl­e.”

Tomsula must make a host of roster cuts by tonight (Qld time), thinning his squad from 90 to 75.

Hayne is almost certainly assured of getting through.

And with most first-string players expected to sit out of the final trial against the Chargers, the former NRL star will see more minutes than in any of his three previous games. The final 53-man roster will be named on Sunday.

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