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Jarryd Hayne continues to impress as return specialist

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Former Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne is quickly becoming one of the NFL's most exciting open-field runners.

Assuming punt-return duties for the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday evening's preseason tilt, Hayne scooted through the Dallas Cowboys' special teams coverage for thrilling returns of 27, 34 and 23 yards in the first quarter.

The first attempt was especially impressive, as Hayne turned a Willie Mays-style over-the-shoulder catch into a highlight-reel run.

He also led the 49ers with 54 rushing yards on eight carries, handling third-string chores behind starter Carlos Hyde and rookie Mike Davis -- with veterans Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter sitting out.

After the 49ers' 23-6 victory, coach Jim Tomsula said Hayne is "making a great case for himself, but there's still a long way to go."

Although it's fair to question Hayne's football instincts in tight quarters as a tailback, there's nothing fluky about his playmaking ability in space.

Hayne's first 18 preseason touches have netted 235 yards. Demonstrating a knack for making the gunner miss with his first move, Hayne's five punt returns have all gone for at least 10 yards.

Even if Tomsula continues to tamp down the hype, the question has gone from whether Hayne will make the final roster to whether he will hit the ground running as one of the NFL's most effective return specialists.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast caps the weeklong Fantasy Extravaganza by talking undervalued and overvalued QBs and everyone's draft philosophies.

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