American Football: Hayne drops down pecking order without even playing

Jarryd Hayne in action for the 49ers. Photo / AP
Jarryd Hayne in action for the 49ers. Photo / AP

Jarryd Hayne has fallen to the No. 6 running back at the San Francisco 49ers, according to the first unofficial depth chart of the team's roster.

The Australian is hopeful of a breakout year in his second season in the NFL, however his stocks are not that high with new coach Chip Kelly, according to The Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows.

Kelly, the former Philadelphia Eagles mentor, has not been active in free agency this off-season, however Barrows believes Hayne has still dropped down the pecking order with all of the 49ers running backs expected to start pre-season training healthy.

The 49ers convene at their Santa Clara headquarters on April 4 for the first day of their training program with NFL rules preventing Kelly and his co-ordinators from holding specific football conversations with players until that date.

He says Carlos Hyde, Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris, Mike Davis and Kendall Gaskins are all ahead of Hayne at running back right now.

Barrows writes Hayne will arrive at Santa Clara needing to immediately prove to Kelly he deserves to be there.

"It will be interesting to see if Chip Kelly and his staff can better carve out an offensive role for the talented but still unrefined Hayne than their predecessors," Barrows wrote.

"There's no question Hyde, fully recovered from his foot injury, will be the 49ers' top runner. After him, the depth becomes fuzzy.

"A team source, who did not want to go on record because he didn't have the authority by the 49ers to comment, said recently that Draughn and Harris were the 49ers' two best runners after Hyde was injured last year. Hyde and Davis are the only draft picks in this group, and because of that Davis will be given every chance to succeed. He was ineffective last year until the season finale."

The Aussie is still very much in the mix at the 49ers however, pictured on their Twitter acccount on Wednesday, with the caption "back to work" - Hayne later retweeted the post.

Hayne spent one game in December as the 49ers' starting running back - a loss to Detroit at Ford Field - but his highest position on the 49ers running back depth chart was third behind Gaskins and Harris in January and behind Hyde and Reggie Bush in October, according to NFL scouting service ourlads.com.

Twelve months ago, Hayne wasn't even listed on the 49ers' running back depth chart and was only listed as the team's third choice punt returner on special teams.

Equally as concerning for Hayne is Kelly's public praise for teammate Bruce Ellington, who is considered the 49ers' preferred punt-returner and kick-returner on special teams as well as a wide receiver and running back.

"When you look at just the short time that I've seen just film of him you're like, 'wow - that kid can do some interesting things'," Kelly said recently. "Then it's our job to figure out how we can use that to help us win games."

Barrows believes Ellington could feature as a receiver and running back this season - another potential hurdle for Hayne.

He rates Ellington as the third preferred receiver behind Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton while veteran receiver Anquan Boldin is expected to leave the 49ers through free agency.

"Without Anquan Boldin, who is currently a free agent, Smith is the group's elder statesman, a role that should suit him well," Barrows wrote.

"After Smith, starting jobs are up for grabs. Kelly hinted that he's intrigued by Ellington. If he's able to stay healthy this off-season - a big if, given his history - Ellington could be in line for a quasi receiver/running back role."

Hayne could also face further competition for a spot on the Niners' active roster following the 2016 NFL draft beginning on April 28 in Chicago.

The 49ers have a league-leading 12 draft picks, including picks No. 7 and No. 37.

- news.com.au

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