49ers coach Jim Tomsula sacked: What now for Jarryd Hayne?

04/01/2016 3:49 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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San Francisco 49ers' Jarryd Hayne walks across a practice field on his way to a news conference after facing the Denver Broncos in an NFL football scrimmage at the Broncos' headquarters Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The San Francisco 49ers have fired head coach Jim Tomsula, and Jarryd Hayne may be next. Or perhaps not.

The 49ers won their last game of the season time in overtime on Sunday evening (US time), taking the team to a 5-11 win/loss record for the season.

But a last gasp Niners win over the struggling St Louis Rams wasn't enough to secure the job of nice guy coach Jim Tomsula, who was incredibly popular among players in the dressing room but less so among the suits in the boardroom.

Tomsula has an everyman sort of look about him which is reflected in his CV which includes such unglamorous previous jobs as janitor, floor cleaner and doormat salesman. After being shown both the door and the mat by 49ers owner Jed York -- who comes from a billionaire real estate and construction family -- some uncharitable people on Twitter are suggesting Tomsula will at least have plenty to fall back on.

And so, the wheels of sport turn in the way they so often turn in this mercenary age. Here's what Jed York said:

“We all know he is a man of high character, and his contributions on the field and in our community have always been greatly appreciated. This entire organisation is proud and grateful to have worked so closely alongside Jimmy. We all wish him and his family great success in the future.”

Translated, that means you're a good guy when you're winning and a nobody when you're not. So is Jarryd Hayne a good guy or a nobody now?

Way back when the Jarryd Hayne show got serious in August, Tomsula compared Hayne to Michael Jordan in terms of his status in Australia, saying he was "extremely excited" by his success.

Back in November after axeing Hayne from the 46 man roster and sending him off to the practice squad, Tomsula declared he was a "Hayne fan". On this matter, as with most, the straight-shooting (former) coach was likely telling the truth.

"We were all excited about Jarryd today," Tomsula said last week as Hayne made a solid but unspectacular return to the team.

But suddenly it no longer matters what Jim Tomsula thinks of Jarryd Hayne. All that matters is what the next guy thinks, whoever he is.

Hayne's initial success -- which peaked, perhaps too early, in the pre-season -- dropped off sharply as the Australian ex-NRL star first got the fumbles, then looked a little lost in some of the defensive intricacies of American football. In hindsight, Hayne's trademark gut instinct in open space was never going to account for a lack of serious NFL knowledge.

Can Jarryd Hayne keep learning the technical aspects of the game between now and August 2016? Given a chance, he probably can. But will someone give him that chance and champion him the way Jim Tomsula did?

Depends on the guy. The one clue we can offer, as Hayne prepares to jet back to Sydney this week, is that the 49ers at least elected to play him on Sunday. If they hadn't, given him game time, they would have effectively relinquished his contract rights for the 2016-17 season, allowing other teams to snap up his services in the off-season.

Someone still believes. They didn't quite believe enough to give Hayne a meaningful role in the meaningless last game of a forgettable season, but someone still believes. Maybe that person is Jed York. Whoever it is, they need Jarryd Hayne to keep improving -- something Hayne would be the first to admit he needs too.

But let's give him credit. Jarryd Hayne had a great year. And even if he occasionally carried the ball like a rookie, he carried himself like a champion.

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