Jarryd Hayne flicks the switch

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — As 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne prepares for his second NFL season, training this week under his second coach in as many seasons, he found himself dealing with the same struggles he did during his freshman campaign.

After four days of training under newly minted head coach Chip Kelly, and his new playbook, Hayne said Friday that a light turned on inside his head during the three-day break between the first and second weeks of the offseason training program.

“The biggest difference from last year is I’m a lot more comfortable to be able to come in and learn straight away,” Hayne said. “The first four days were a bit of a shock and reminded me a lot of last year. But then over the weekend being able to study and for everything to come a lot faster than it did last year. Because it’s kind of remembering the calls from last year and then refreshing that and putting the new calls in my head and changing what we used to call it last year to what we’re calling it this year.”

Much of Hayne’s struggles last season were prefaced by one of the league’s best preseason performances. However, after weeks of playing in the 49ers downtrodden offense, and a general lack of understanding of the sport, particularly understanding the playbook, Hayne found himself waived by the team and reassigned to the practice squad.

Now, he already feels he’s further along than he’s ever been, despite an entirely new offense being introduced thanks to the hiring of Kelly.

“It was weird because I was studying Monday to Thursday, then I’m just like, ‘I’m going to have a day off just to clear my head.’ I did that,” Hayne said.

“And come Saturday I was OK. Then, Sunday, it just went ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ It felt great because I learned the majority of the calls and now it’s about piecing them together. It is difficult, but it’s a challenge, and I enjoy that.”

He said he now has a greater understanding of pass routes and the role he plays in pass protection. What he learned last season is what he will use as the blueprint, and merge that information with what he continues to learn from Kelly, Hayne said.

One of the greatest obstacle Hayne said he faced was the mechanical adjustments he was required to make — playing rugby, he ran with a much more up-right style, in football, players are required to run much lower. He said he spent the offseason working on strengthening his hips and glutes in order to become a more efficient and impactful runner.

“I’m tall as well, so that makes it even harder,” he said. “(It’s having) more balance when I go down. Everybody can get low, but it’s maintaining balance and being able to come out of a cut strong and do that at a high speed. Those are the biggest things for me that I’ve been focusing on.”

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