Jarryd Hayne made an impression during a visit with Seattle last year. Lachlan Cunningham Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne almost wound up on the opposite side of the team's rivalry with the Seattle Seahawks.

Hayne visited with Seattle last December shortly after announcing he was leaving the Australian rugby league to take a crack at the NFL and intrigued Seahawks coach Pete Carroll with his skill set.

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"We thought he really could be a highlighted player," Carroll told reporters Tuesday. "And we had a lot of thoughts about how we were going to use him."

The 49ers felt the same way and signed Hayne in March to serve as their primary punt returner and part-time running back. Hayne is averaging 9.5 yards on five punt returns and has eight carries for 25 yards through six games.

"I thought it was an exciting prospect to get him in here," Carroll said. "And we tried to. We talked to him about it, visited with him and all that. It's really cool to see that he's playing, and he's contributing and he's a factor in the games. He's done some really good stuff."

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