Reggie Bush Puts Decade-long Career in Perspective

People often joke that the NFL should stand for "Not For Long." Such a label isn't applicable to the career of San Francisco 49ers running back Reggie Bush, who is entering his 10th season as a pro.

Originally the second overall pick in 2006 to the New Orleans Saints, Bush spent five years in New Orleans before landing with the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions for two seasons each. The running back recently put his NFL career into perspective in a 1-on-1 interview with 49ers Studios.

View the best images of Reggie Bush returning punts and carrying the ball out of the backfield during OTAs.

"I've been blessed, that's how I would describe it," Bush said. "The things I've done, seen and accomplished at a young age make me blessed, but I still feel like I have so much left in the tank and a lot of football left to be played.

"The journey has been great, and I wouldn't have done it any other way."

The Spring Valley, Calif., native played collegiately at USC and is happy to have his career back in the Golden State, albeit a 10-hour drive north of his hometown. Bush signed with the 49ers on March 18 and has felt nothing but positive vibes in his first two months in the Bay Area.

"This is truly a first-class organization," Bush said. "It's been really good so far getting acclimated to the new environment, new coaches and players."

Now 30 years old, Bush is the elder statesman in an overall young corps of ball carriers. He brings with him 8,954 career yards from scrimmage, 53 total touchdowns and one Super Bowl ring.

Free-agent rookie Jarryd Hayne, 27, is the next oldest. Kendall Hunter's four NFL seasons make him the second-most experienced back on the roster. Second-year back Pierre Garçon and 2015 fourth-round pick Mike Davis round out the group.

So, when did Bush feel like he made the transition from young playmaker to veteran leader?

"It was probably when everyone in the running back room was at least six years younger than me," Bush said, laughing. "It's funny because it goes by so quick. I don't feel like I'm a 10-year veteran. … The biggest thing for me is just trying to salvage every bit I can out of each day; trying to get the most out of myself and my running back partners."

As a rookie, Bush had the benefit of learning from former Saints star running back Duece McAllister and current quarterback Drew Brees. Bush still remembers and admires their work ethic and approach to each day.

He's carried those lessons with him and applies it to his own leadership strategy.

The free agent addition to the San Francisco 49ers goes through drills at a recent Organized Team Activity.

"I try to lead by example, and I try to earn my respect in the weight room and in the classroom," Bush said "There's definitely a few things as a rookie that I didn't know, but you're not supposed to know everything.

"Everybody in the NFL is talented, but what I've learned over the years is that you separate yourself with your daily preparation and with your knowledge of the game."

Bush said the 49ers running back room is an environment that embraces those values. That, in large part, is former 49ers running back and current coach at the position Tom Rathman.

Rathman, like Bush, was well-known for catching the ball out of the backfield. In eight seasons with the 49ers, Rathman recorded 294 receptions for 2,490 yards and eight receiving touchdowns. He also added 516 carries for 1,902 yards and 26 scores on the ground.

"Tom is a great coach. He's a guy who's experienced it at both levels. He's won Super Bowls and played on great teams. Now he's passing that knowledge on down to some of the younger guys. Having a guy like Tom is really going to help us in the long run. He's been there, he's done it before and he understands what it takes to get to that next level."

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