The San Francisco 49ers signed Reggie Bush earlier this offseason, two weeks after the running back turned 30. When any football player turns 30, it is easy to assume the odds are high things will go south sooner rather than later. I'm plenty guilty of this. There are a lot of players who have done big things after turning 30, but the combination of injuries and salary cap concerns raise plenty of issues.
A month ago, Bush sat down with ESPN's Mike Sando to discuss his career, and particularly a few plays that were notable in flipping win probability. The interview is fascinating, but the most interesting part of the discussion for our purposes was toward the end. Sando mentioned the idea of running backs wearing down once they hit 30. Bush discussed how it depends on the number of carries, and the pounding a player has dealt with throughout his career.
I do not feel like I'm 30 and I know I don't look like I'm 30 on the field, on the practice field. Had I taken a lot of pounding and had a lot of carries early in my career, maybe I would feel a bit more worn down than I do now.
I know last year I got hurt, but there is a difference between getting older and losing a step and being injured. I think if you look at the games where I was healthy, you would clearly see that I have not lost a step. And they will see this year, too, that I have not lost a step and I am still the same player that I've always been.
Bush appears to be in fantastic shape, but being physically fit, and being able to turn that into serious NFL production are two separate issues. He seems to think he'll be fine with regard to conditioning and the like. The question now is if he can stay healthy. Bush played 11 games last year and 14 the season before. He has played 16 games twice in his career, 15 games once and 14 games twice.
If Bush can stay healthy, it is entirely possible he could still have enough left in the tank. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, which was his lowest since 2008. However, he averaged 9.4 yard per reception, which was easily the highest of his career (previous career high was 8.5 in 2008). He has talked about the 49ers using more swing passes, and his involvement in the passing game could be a critical addition....if he can stay healthy.