‘Jarryd Hayne is San Francisco 49ers’ best punt catcher’: Thomas McGaughey

By @hoopsdontstop30 on
Jarryd Hayne
San Francisco 49ers special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said Jarryd Hayne’s strength is punt return. Reuters/Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Fans and pundits have urged the San Francisco 49ers to put Jarryd Hayne to take on both return jobs after the Australian rugby league convert displayed an impressive 37-yard return in the club’s crushing 47-7 defeat against Arizona Cardinals on Monday. However, 49ers special teams coordinator Tom McGaughey is convinced that Hayne is the team’s “best punt catcher,” insisting that the former Eel is not best suited as kickoff returner.

Hayne is primed to get more touches as the 49ers’ punt returner after his remarkable 37-yard return led to the team’s lone touchdown in their loss against the Cardinals. While it suggests that the Australian sensation could also take the kickoff return job following DeAndrew White’s shaky performance, McGaughey was adamant that Hayne’s strong suit is only at punt return.

“It can get real tight in there in a hurry in kickoff returns and that's something that he's still trying to get a feel for,” McGaughey told the Niners Nation . “I think his strength is punt return and that's where we're going to keep him at."

McGaughey explained that the two return jobs require different skill sets. A punt return is made after the other team’s punter catches a ball from a long snap and quickly boots it down filed to gain field position. On the other hand, a kick return comes when the opponent’s kicker kicks the ball from a tee placed on the ground at the start of the game or after a touchdown.

McGaughey added that Hayne’s skill set comes when he has the space to move, which is more likely when fielding a punt. McGaughey also revealed that the only time he has seen the 27-year-old Aussie drop a ball was in their NFL season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

“The first ball he put on the ground is the one he did in the game [against the Vikings],” McGaughey added. “Since he’s been here, I haven’t seen him drop one in practice on in a game since [the opener].”

However, Roger Craig, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the 49ers and the team’s beat writer for Fox Sports , believes Hayne has a chance to get a more playing time returning kick-offs. In his second open letter to Hayne, Craig wrote that returning kicks for San Francisco is the perfect chance to get the Australian rugby league star get into the game more.

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