At 30 years old and entering his 10th NFL season, Reggie Bush may be approaching the twilight of his career. But if you ask the veteran running back if he’s slowed down since his younger days, Bush doesn’t hesitate to refute that assumption.
“I don’t feel like I’ve lost a step,” Bush said on Thursday. “And I think if you talk to a lot of people around the league who I’ve had a chance to play with, they’ll say it doesn’t look like I’ve lost a step. I’m still fast, I’m still quick, and I’m still explosive.”
Bush isn’t just talking about his abilities either. He wants to showcase them in as many ways as possible. That’s why he recently approached the San Francisco 49ers staff with an idea.
“I told the coaches I wanted to return punts again,” Bush said. “And they were excited about it. We’re still working at it; we’re still chipping away, but we look forward to having an all-around great special teams.”
During the team’s Thursday OTA session, which was open to the media, Bush was seen fielding punts alongside rugby league star-turned-NFL running back Jarryd Hayne. Bush looked at ease in the role, even catching a few of the balls with one hand behind his back.
Bush has not been used in the return game since 2011 as a member of the Miami Dolphins. In his first three NFL seasons, however, Bush returned four punts for touchdowns for the New Orleans Saints.
“Getting out there and catching punts, to me, I didn’t feel like I was missing a beat or gotten rusty,” Bush said. “I’m excited. I just think it’s another challenge for me and another opportunity for me to go out and showcase my skills.”
Bruce Ellington and Perrish Cox handled all but four of the 49ers punt returns last season. As a team, San Francisco ranked 29th in punt return average at 6.5 yards per attempt.
Ellington is nursing an undisclosed injury and Cox signed with the Tennessee Titans as a free agent, so Bush and Hayne are garnering the reps for now. The 49ers haven’t returned a punt for a touchdown since 2011, when Ted Ginn Jr. accomplished the feat in a season-opening home win over the Seattle Seahawks.