San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Tomsula has placed a shroud of mystery over his plans to use Jarryd Hayne in next week’s season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings are a team loaded with talent, headed by $US14 million-a-season running back Adrian Peterson and one of the NFL’s hottest young quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater.
Played at the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, about 15 million Americans will tune into the traditional high-rating Monday Night Football TV telecast (September 15 AEST).
Tomsula wouldn’t say if Hayne would return punts and kicks against the Vikings, instead telling reporters on Tuesday he would select from the group he used in the pre-season – Hayne, running back Reggie Bush and wide-receivers Bruce Ellington and DeAndrew White.
He added he could use multiple returners throughout the game.
“It’s the same group you’ve seen,” Tomsula said.
“All the guys have done a nice job at that.”
Asked specifically about the team using Hayne as a returner, Tomsula replied: “We’re happy with the group that you’ve seen and, for obvious reasons, there could be more than one.
“I don’t want to get into half-truths and splitting hairs and all that kind of stuff, but we are happy with the whole group.”
Hayne, after his sensational four pre-season games, was named in the 49ers’ 53-man squad on the weekend but on game days teams have just 46 players so it is possible the former Parramatta Eel could be left on the bench.
Tomsula won’t announce his team until 90 minutes before kickoff.
The Vikings are considered are a dark horse for the Super Bowl, but few experts expect the 49ers to make the playoffs after suffering key player departures from last season.
“Adrian Peterson is always a challenge,” Tomsula said.
“If he puts on a helmet and a shirt, he’s a challenge.
“Teddy Bridgewater is doing a nice job, tight ends are doing a nice job.
“The wide receivers are obviously a fast crew … so you put all that together, obviously we’ve got a tonne of respect for them.”