Jarryd Hayne has a second chance to show the San Francisco 49ers and other teams he can make it in the NFL after being called up from the practice squad.
Hayne fans might call his return to the 49ers’ 53-man squad a Christmas miracle, while others upset at the injury-ravaged team’s treatment of the former NRL star the past two months probably would call it karma.
The 49ers announced on Sunday they have promoted Hayne and inserted him back in their 53-man active roster, making him eligible to play the Detroit Lions on Sunday (Monday 5am AEDT).
The resurrection of Hayne’s NFL career comes after the 49ers axed him on Halloween and two days later signed him to their practice squad.
It also comes 10 days after special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey bluntly told reporters the Australian “needs to learn how to play football” and “it just didn’t work out”.
With two games left in the 49ers’ losing season, Hayne has an opportunity to not only show the 49ers he is worthy of a 53-man squad slot, but also the Lions and 30 other NFL teams that could have signed him during his practice squad stint.
A year ago, Detroit was the frontrunner to sign the former Parramatta Eel until the 49ers sweetened their offer with a $US100,000 ($A137,457) guaranteed payment.
Hayne’s return to the 49ers’ 53-man squad does not ensure he will play the Lions.
The 49ers can only take 46 players into each game so Hayne will have to survive that cut which is announced 45 minutes before kick-off.
Hayne’s chances of being plucked from the practice squad and playing against the Lions skyrocketed when the 49ers’ top running back in recent weeks, Shaun Draughn, was ruled out on Friday with a sprained knee.
That left just two fit running backs in the 49ers’ 53-man squad — the man whose arrival first forced Hayne to be waived, Kendall Gaskins, and DuJuan Harris.
Since Hayne’s axing, the 49ers lost running backs Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush and Mike Davis to injury and earlier this week cut underperforming free agent signing Travaris Cadet.
The 49ers usually take three running backs into each game, but if they do not play Hayne, coach Jim Tomsula said the team could lean on receiver/returner Bruce Ellington and full-back Bruce Miler to step in to play the position.
After McGaughey’s comments it will be interesting to see if the 49ers play Hayne at punt returner as well as running back.
Hayne, a preseason sensation for the 49ers despite never playing an elite game of American football, was cut from the active roster after three dropped punts in the first six regular season games.