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Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne waived by 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers announced Saturday that running back Jarryd Hayne is being waived and Kendall Gaskins promoted to the active roster. It's the kind of football move that teams make every single week, but Hayne's story as a Rugby League star turned NFL running back captured the imagination of NFL and NRL fans alike.

Hayne dazzled with dynamic punt returns and solid running in preseason, but this failed to materialize during the regular season. He had limited touches behind Carlos Hyde and failed to impress when given opportunities. In six games he carried the ball eight times for 25 yards, for an average of 3.1 yards per carry.

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More concerning than his lack of impact in the running game was his punt returning, which Hayne earned a roster spot for. In eight returns he fumbled a total of three times, including one lost to the opposition. It's a position that requires near-perfection, and the former NRL star was anything but.

It's unclear where Hayne goes from here. It's likely the 49ers will attempt to re-sign him and place him on the practice squad, but there's a chance an NFL team will take a flyer on him as an athlete, hoping he can be coached up. At this point in the season it's unlikely Hayne will find a home on a new team with any kind of locker room stability, which makes San Francisco his best possible landing spot -- even now.

The other aspect to Hayne being waived cannot be understated: He became a distraction by no fault of his own. Hayne wanted to be an athlete trying to make the NFL like everyone else, but media in Australia couldn't resist heaping unnecessary pressure on his shoulders. Hayne became the hopes of a nation -- a player who would usher in a new era of opportunity for rugby players in the NFL. This was coupled with a 49ers coaching staff that was routinely asked about Hayne's status, his playing time and his lack of opportunities, garnering attention in a way no other third-string running back is used to.

Hayne understood the difficulty in making an NFL roster, even when Rugby League fans in Australia couldn't. He knew it wouldn't be easy, even though he made it look simple in preseason. This isn't the end of his bid to become an NFL running back, but it is a setback -- hopefully one that will take the spotlight off him and allow him to work on being a complete football player, not being forced to be a prototype for a new era.

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