- Jarryd Hayne says chasing NFL dream was golden
- Jarryd Hayne's NFL fate rests with new San Francisco 49ers coach
Jarryd Hayne's US agent Jack Bechta says his client exceeded expectations in his first season in the NFL, doing so in what he described as a dysfunctional environment at the San Francisco 49ers.
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Arriving back in Sydney, Jarryd Hayne speaks about playing in San Francisco's last few games of the season and says he's looking forward to watching the playoffs.
Hayne touched down in Sydney on Wednesday after his 49ers failed to reach the play-offs, punting head coach Jim Tomsula as a consequence of the disaster season for the storied franchise.
Superstar quarterback Colin Kaepernick struggled to recapture the form that saw him lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl a few seasons ago, failing to finish the season as Blaine Gabbert took centre stage with a productive second half of the season.
The franchise's running backs were dropping like flies, but Hayne's promotion was nowhere to be seen as Tomsula opted for Hayne to learn the ropes in the practice squad before reinstating him in the penultimate round of the season.
"Here is the thing that people don't realise, when he was on practice squad he kept getting better and better," Bechta told Fairfax Media.
"And furthermore he did this in an environment that was highly dysfunctional with the changes – eventually head coach and quarterback – at the team.
"It's very traumatic for that to happen and he was still able to keep getting better and prove to the coaches he belonged and deserved a shot. The foundation has been laid and I think his growth will accelerate dramatically going into this year."
For Hayne to play even one game of NFL in his first season was an incredible achievement that most didn't envisage when he stunned the rugby league world in October 2014.
He finished the season with eight games to his name after just eight months playing the sport, leaving the US with the respect of the football world and the admiration of a success-starved city thrilled by his feats in a rapid development.
Hayne went from the unknown to the unstoppable in the pre-season, but as fast as he put his name up in lights he was sent crashing back to earth when he was dropped to the practice squad after six games.
But his agent insists he surprised everyone with what he was able to produce in his first season in a foreign sport. "It was more than anybody expected, at least in North America," Bechta said.
"He did really well, but the thing to note is that the glass is only half full. It's more than half full. He got the experience, he got to play and most importantly he proved he does belong in that league."
Given Hayne finished the season on the active list, the 49ers retain his contract rights for next season. However with a new coach coming on board, it's unclear how Hayne will fit into the club's plans, but Bechta believes his client is in a good place to make his mark in 2016.
"He's got a foundation now to build off and knows what to expect going into next year," Bechta said.
"He's pretty much checked all the boxes he needed to check. He over-exceeded expectation."
While there were rumblings Hayne would return home to the NRL after being demoted to the practice squad, he persevered and gained a greater understanding of the sport and all its nuances.
"He could have easily been written off," Bechta said. "But he kept impressing to earn a spot back on the team."