The role of 49ers’ rookie Jarryd Hayne has been a secret almost from the start, and nothing that happened in the 43-13 blowout loss in Pittsburgh changed that Sunday.
With Reggie Bush inactive, Hayne was expected to back up Carlos Hyde at running back, but he played only four snaps on offense. He carried the ball twice for three yards and one first down. He also returned one punt for seven yards and called for a fair catch on another. Of course, the 49ers were playing catch-up and throwing the ball throughout the second half, and the Steelers weren’t punting much.
Still, back home, Australia was in near panic.
“Future uncertain for Jarryd Hayne,” blared the Brisbane Times website.
Paul Zalunardo wrote rather gloomily, “Social media, including the 49ers’ official Twitter account, didn’t immediately make mention of Hayne being injured.
“If he was not hurt, Hayne’s immediate playing future is up in the air.”
Hayne was not hurt.
After Hyde left the game in the third quarter, Mike Davis got the call in his first action of the season. Other than Colin Kaepernick, none of the 49ers had much success on the ground.
The decision to bench Hayne was a rather curious one. The blowout situation seemed to be an ideal time to give the less experienced players some extended time on the field. Hayne has a lot to learn as a pass-blocker, among other things, so why not give him some on-the-job training with the outcome no longer in doubt?
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: So what have we learned about the 49ers in two games? If they run the ball consistently at one end and put some heat on the quarterback at the other, they’re a highly competitive group. But if they do neither, they have no chance.
On Sunday, the 49ers were in a 22-3 hole midway through the second period, and their offense simply wasn’t equipped to overcome a deficit that large. They don’t have the quarterback, wide receivers and blockers for that sort of thing. Didn’t have much of that when Jim Harbaugh was the coach, in fact.
Yet as one-sided as the game turned out to be, there are some positives to take away Kapernick finally threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, so he won’t have to hear about that streak any more. The quarterback passed for 335 yards, and while most of them came in garbage time, he didn’t throw an interception in the second consecutive game. Newcomer Torrey Smith caught six balls for 120 yards and a long touchdown, another positive sign. Sort of.
DON’T SLEEP ON STEELERS: Let’s also not forget that the Steelers aren’t exactly Paducah State. They’re a legitimate AFC threat with a ridiculously talented offense. Wide receiver Antonio Brown represents an impossible matchup for defenses, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn’t too bad himself.
“Their defense was holding on for dear life.” said Steelers guard and Stanford product David DeCastro.
And if Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had been Bill Belichick, who never saw a score that he couldn’t roll up, the spread would have been even worse.
JUST SAYIN’: 49ers cornerbacks Kenneth Acker and Tramaine Brock got more television time than anyone, so often were they toasted on highlight-reel plays.
LOCASALE GONE, NOT FORGOTTEN: The Raiders lost a legend on Sunday when Al LoCasale passed away at 82 following a stroke. He spent 34 years in the organization, many of them as owner Al Davis’ right-hand man.
LoCasale was known as Little Al, a human pit bull who was fiercely loyal to Davis and the organization. But when the ticket relocation plan turned scandalous under his direction after the team moved to Los Angeles, he was stripped of his privileges and never regained his former status.
“For a while, you think, ‘Gee, what a great guy, [Davis] did this for me and he really likes me and I’m doing good,’” LoCasale once said. “And all of a sudden, you’re not that person. You haven’t changed, but something
“[Davis] believes in this. This is part of his philosophy. He believes in turmoil. And he’ll say it. He doesn’t want things to be smooth. He likes a little conflict between this person and that person. Controversy and conflict don’t upset him as much as they upset the people he’s dealing with.”
THE LIST: The 49ers and Raiders are among the NFL leaders in something this season, even if it is beer prices. According to Team Marketing Report, here are the five highest and lowest prices per ounce:
1. Philadelphia Eagles, $0.71
2. 49ers, $0.63
3. Arizona Cardinals, $0.60
4. New Orleans Saints, 0.56
5. Raiders, $0.54
28. Miami Dolphins, $0.39
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $0.39
30. Jacksonville Jaguars, $0.38
30. New England Patriots, $0.38
32. Cincinnati Bengals, $0.36
And the 49ers, after last week’s melee in the Levi’s Stadium parking lot, may be facing a second-half alcohol ban and declining beer revenue if Santa Clara officials have their way.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … Lucky Lager?
Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may get your name in the paper one day.