Attempts by some sources to cast Jarryd Hayne as the culprit for the debacle that is the San Francisco 49ers 2015 season lacked any real evidence to support the claim.
It was a Cinderella story right from the beginning, however, and the cold hard truth of job security in the NFL is that punt returners who fumble once are generally destined for the rubbish heap. Hayne dropped three punts in his first six weeks as a member of the 49ers.
Hayne certainly has the physical skills to compete in the NFL, but his lack of gridiron experience hurt him when he attempted to play a game against players who started the game as six and seven-year-olds.
No one questions the toughness of rugby players. Their game is not unlike that of the NFL, with the clear exception that armoured competitors with complete disregard for their own well-being as well as that of opposition players cause even the most skilled ball handlers to experience second thoughts when attempting to catch an oddly shaped ball unpredictably drifting and tumbling through the air.
Add in the consequences of a muffed punt, which potentially turns an unsuccessful offensive series into a major positive gain for the kicking team, along with the visibility focused on the return man in a punting situation, and it is obvious that Hayne was a liability on a team stocked with liabilities at every position.
The 49ers have fared no better since releasing Hayne and if it is fingers that need to be pointed, they could be pointed in multiple directions.