SAN FRANCISCO—Rumors that the San Francisco 49ers were flirting with the idea of signing rugby star Jarryd Hayne have been confirmed.
The 27-year-old athlete has officially signed a futures contract with the team, choosing the Niners over the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks.
Hayne had hesitations about signing with the team because of the recent coaching change from Jim Harbaugh to Jim Tomsula. However, a meeting with Tomsula reportedly eased some of the Australian-born athlete’s hesitations about playing for a rookie coach.
In addition, a signing bonus of $100,000 likely played a part in Hayne’s decision to sign with San Francisco.
At 6 foot and 2 inches, 226-pounds, Hayne could prove a load to bring down, as he is expected to serve primarily as a running back and kick returner.
The 27-year-old will look to be the first professional rugby player to successfully make the transition to football, as several others before him have tried and never truly caught on to the American sport.
If anyone can do it, Hayne would appear the one. The 2014 NRL rugby player of the year brings a rare combination of height, weight, speed, and open-field agility to the field, physical gifts he will have to rely upon during his cross-over to a foreign sport.
“This is a small step in the right direction,” said Hayne. “The hard stuff starts now.”