Rugby star Jarryd Hayne retired because Chip Kelly’s playbook was too hard
Jarryd Hayne decided to retire from the NFL and return to professional rugby this year, and now he says that he was just too far behind his peers in the steep learning curve of understanding football, and the coaching switch to Chip Kelly would have been too much to overcome.
Hayne, who was a star rugby player in Australia, said in the fall of 2014 that he wanted to play in the NFL. He signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2015 and appeared in eight games with them last season.
Hayne explained that to learn and understand the nuances of football — including the playbook under Jim Tomsula — took an extensive amount of time. When the 49ers switched coaches to Kelly, he would have had to learn an entirely new playbook and system, which he thought would be very difficult.
“I just think with Chip’s playbook, it’s such an intense playbook that it would just take too much time,” Hayne said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Me not having that college history, I think a lot of the guys adapt to it a lot faster because they’ve had the college playbooks at thought. I was always behind the nine ball just learning in general. The guys playing in college were just that far ahead.
“That was the biggest thing, just knowing and wishing I had a couple of more years up my sleeve. If I had a couple more years up my sleeve 100 per cent I know what player I could have been. But time is of the essence and now I’m on to my next adventure and it’s brought me to Fiji.”
Nobody should take this as Hayne being a quitter. He merely looked at the situation and decided that his best pathway to continued athletic success would be to go back to rugby, where he already knew and understood the finer points of the game.
Hayne’s reason for returning to rugby — he’s playing with the Fiji national team — is understandable. In fact, most people thought Hayne would have trouble transitioning because football is so complex and involves a deep understanding of the game and coaching strategies.
“It was hard at the 49ers. With the new coaching staff and the guys that really put the study and that in – it all changed. It was tough, but I worked hard and made the 90-man squad. That meant I’ll be back in preseason, but time isn’t on my side. I had to make a decision and being in Fiji was it.”
Hayne’s football foray should not be viewed as unsuccessful. Without having any football experience, the guy made an NFL team and rushed for 52 yards, posted 27 receiving yards, returned multiple punts, and gave us these awesome preseason highlights. That’s a heck of an accomplishment.