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San Francisco 49ers hunt for more Aussies

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The San Francisco 49ers love their Australian recruit Jarryd Hayne and are on the lookout for more rugby league, union, AFL and other athletes.
Head coach Jim Tomsula says the door to his office at the 49ers’ base in Santa Clara, California, is open.

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“Hey, if you have a lot of skill out there and you’re somewhere else in the world and you can run fast, hit hard and can catch a ball, throw a ball or tackle, this is a place for you,” Tomsula said. “Everybody come here.”

Hayne (left) is congratulated by 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula in the locker room.
Hayne (left) is congratulated by 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula in the locker room.

Tomsula will likely be busy with guests.

Numerous elite NRL, union and AFL players were already pondering following in Hayne’s footsteps before Hayne’s inclusion on Saturday in the 49ers’ 53-man roster.

Hayne also admitted he will receive a huge bump in pay after making the 53-man roster.

Tomsula was a coach in the NFL Europe league, so he has a long history of identifying athletes in other sports and training them into NFL players and he said the 49ers was the best NFL club for foreigners.

Tomsula’s NFL Europe background is one of the main reasons he sat down with Hayne in the Santa Clara office late last year.

Tomsula was so bullish on Hayne the 49ers offered the un-tested Australian a $US100,000 guarantee to join their off-season program.

The two teams who were also in the hunt for Hayne, the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks, didn’t offer him the guaranteed money.

Hayne went on to sign a three-year $US1.538 million ($A2.19 million) deal, with a base salary of $US435,000. ($A620,700).

Playing primarily as a running back and punt returner, Hayne made the cut after a slew of impressive performances in the preseason that saw him finish with the second-most rushing yards of any player in the league.

The former NRL star made the first cut on Tuesday, when the squad was reduced from 85 to 75, and is now a member of one of the most storied franchises in NFL history.

Hayne announced he had made the squad via Twitter, 24 minutes after the 6am AEST deadline for final roster submissions had passed.

“It always works out! Thank God for what he has done and going to do on this incredible journey!! I’m on the 53-man roster for the 49ers,” Hayne tweeted.

The final squad was confirmed on the 49ers’ official website, which announced the names of the 14 players who were released, plus the acquisition of center Nick Easton from the Baltimore Ravens.

The franchise also placed tight end Busta Anderson and running back Kendall Hunter on the Injured Reserve list.

Hayne will get his first chance to impress in the NFL proper when San Francisco opens its season at Levi’s Stadium on September 15 against the Minnesota Vikings.

The 49ers have five Super Bowl trophies in their cabinet, the second-best tally of any team in the league, with the most recent coming in 1995.

Initially viewed as something of a curiosity by American NFL fans, Hayne did not take long to prove he could be an effective offensive weapon for the 49ers, operating as either a punt returner or running back.

In four pre-season games, Hayne produced numerous thrilling highlights as well as some objectively excellent statistics.

The Minto-born 27-year-old called his final preseason game against the San Diego Chargers his most complete for the 49ers.

He totalled a game-high 58 rushing yards in the 14-12 win, while showing off his versatility with 10 carries, two pass catches and three punt returns, as well as a scything rugby league-style tackle in defence.

“For the first time, I was comfortable getting the pads low, which was good,” said Hayne.

“I’ve just worked hard from where I want to go and where I want to be as an NFL player.

“To come out tonight and lower my pads, get low, and get through tackles, that was something I tried to emphasise through the week. I think that was probably my most complete performance with everything we’ve been coached up to do.

“I’ve been pleased to see what I’ve done,” the rookie said. “It’s been a journey as well. I’m just excited as anyone else to get out on the field at Levi’s Stadium in front of the fans, run around and catch passes.

“It’s been great. It’s been such a life-filled journey. It’s been a great experience,” he said of his unprecedented code switch.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world. Everything has been above and beyond everything I could have expected.”

For the entire preseason the former Parramatta Eel notched up 25 carries for 178 yards and an average of 7 yards per carry.

He achieved the second-most rushing yards across the entire NFL and his 53-yard run against the Houston Texans was the third longest in the preseason.

As a punt returner, Hayne fielded nine punts for 163 yards and one kickoff for 33 yards.

The 49ers sent out a tweet showing coach Tomsula shaking Hayne’s hand in the locker room, with the text “Welcome aboard mate!” while the official NFL Twitter account also acknowledged the Australian’s achievement, tweeting “Congrats @JarrydHayne_1! #HaynePlaneHereToStay”.