San Francisco 49ers
August 17, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; General view of Levi's Stadium during the first quarter between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos. REUTERS/Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jarryd Hayne has been the story of San Francisco 49ers’ preseason after continuously impressing fans in his last two games with the team. The Australian rugby league star mostly displayed his running back skills in the 49ers’ first preseason game against Houston Texans, but in San Francisco’s second preseason game with the Dallas Cowboys, Hayne took the spotlight at returning kicks and punts, making him NFL’s No. 1 returner.

The “Hayne Plane” took flight on Monday with a breathtaking start at the 49ers’ preseason home debut at Levi’s Stadium. Hayne’s brilliant showings did not only earn him praises, but also the No. 1 spot in the NFL’s list of returner after finishing the game against the Cowboys with a team-high 54 yards in eight carries and an average of 28 yards per punt return.

According to Pro Football Focus, a US company that records football players’ stats, has put the “Hayne Train” on top of the league’s returner rankings. The 27-year-old Hayne boasted a 3.9 rating, sitting ahead of Seattle Seahawks’ returner Tyler Lockett, and Kenjon Barner, who currently pushes for Philadelphia Eagles’ fourth running back spot.

Hayne impressed the US media and fans after the former Eel had an awe-inspiring over-the-shoulder catch off a Dallas punt before turning for a 27-yard gain. His next punt return gave the 49ers a 34-yard gain followed by another return for a 23-yard run, prompting praises from TV commentators.

Hayne has been working his way to the 49ers’ 53-man roster using his natural skills in playing American football. While most think Hayne should make the cut, 49ers team coach Jim Tomsula downplayed the hype the Aussie receives. However, NFL legend coach John Madden believes Hayne must make it to San Francisco’s final lineup, otherwise, rival teams could snatch the Australian sensation away from the Bay Area.

“And right now, I think he has to make his team. He’s come all the way from, ‘Gee, that’s a nice story’ to ‘Doggone, he’s a pretty good player’,” Madden said, reports Fox Sports.

Bay Area News Group’s 49ers reporter Cam Inman also reiterated Madden’s case at Hayne’s chances of an NFL career. Inman said the five-time Super Bowl champions would be “foolish” to miss out on Hayne after consecutive stunning performances in the team’s previous exhibition games.

“What the NFL teams can do with young guys is cut them and put them on a smaller, 10-man practice squad where he practices with the team but doesn’t play,” Inman said, reports 9news. “Everyone thought Jarryd would head that way when he signed with the 49ers but if they do that, that exposes him to other teams, other teams are going to snatch him,”

The 49ers will visit Denver Broncos on Saturday for the club’s third preseason game. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak has been aware of Hayne’s ability as returner and his resilience from tackles. Hayne will be expected to see some more time at running back on Saturday’s game at Mile High Stadium when he takes the field against legendary quarterback Peyton Manning.

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