SANTA CLARA -– Reggie Bush has gone the past three seasons without lining up deep to field a punt.
When he came to the 49ers, he asked to be given that opportunity -- again.
“It was my idea,” Bush said on Thursday after the 49ers wrapped up a practice at organized team activities. “I told the coaches I wanted to return punts again. And they were excited about it. We’re still working at it, still chipping away. And we look forward to being an all-around great special teams.”
Bush handled punts for his first five NFL seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He returned 92 punts, averaged 7.8 yards per attempt, and scored four touchdowns. But when he went to the Miami Dolphins in 2011, his return days mostly came to an end.
Bush returned six punts for 52 yards in his first season with the Dolphins, they did not get another opportunity during his final year in Miami and the past two seasons with the Detroit Lions.
But he is back fielding punts during the 49ers’ OTAs after signing a one-year deal with the organization in the offseason to serve as part of a running-back committee. Bush and Jarryd Hayne handled the return chores during the special-teams portion of practice on Thursday. Bruce Ellington, the 49ers’ primary return man last season, is sidelined with a hamstring injury
“Getting out there and catching punts, I didn’t feel like I was missing a beat or gotten rusty,” he 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.”
Bush, 30, entered the NFL as the No. 2 overall pick in 2006. So many years later, he comes to the 49ers as a player just looking to find a role as a complementary player.
“I felt like I was going to be young forever when I first came into the league and, now, 10 years later, it feels like it flew by,” Bush said. “Looking back on it, it feels surreal that I’ve been in the league that long. But I still feel like I have a lot to give.”