Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but Fooch is a crazy person who manages this blog with no rhyme or reason and it's worked so far. Who am I to argue?
Back in February, the Detroit Lions released Reggie Bush, saving $1.7 million in cap space with the move. Bush was coming off a 2014 season in which he dealt with various injuries that cost him five games, and led to a subpar season. Add in that Bush turned 30 in March, and it is not a surprise the Lions decide to move on.
Bush did not find a team prior to free agency, and things were somewhat quiet when free agency got going. He visited with the 49ers and the Patriots, and was briefly connected to the Saints. However, after leaving the Patriots without a deal, he signed with the 49ers. The deal is for one year, and could be worth as much as $2.5 million. He received a $500,000 signing bonus, $1.6 million in base salary, $300,000 in roster bonuses paid over the course of the season and $100,000 in a workout bonus.
Bush is coming off a season in which he played in 11 games, rushing 76 times and catching 40 passes. He finished with 297 rushing yards and 253 receiving yards. Bush dealt with a knee injury early in the year, but played through it. He then suffered an ankle injury in Week 5, and he was on the injury report through Week 15. He missed Week 6, Week 8, and Weeks 11-13 with the ankle injury.
Why he might improve:
Injuries have been an issue in Bush's career, but prior to last season, he had played at least 14 games in each of the previous three seasons. It is not a perfect situation, but if Kendall Hunter can provide some value as well in the short passing game, an absence here or there by Bush is not the end of the world. If he can play 14 or more games, it seems like he could improve on last season. In the early part of the season, before his ankle injury, he had some solid games. He could not get things going consistently, but if he can stay remotely healthy this year, I think we see improvement from last year.
Why he might regress:
He's 30 and coming off an injury-plagued season. You can basically inverse what I said above about improving. I think playing 14+ games in each of 2011, 2012 and 2013, is actually a good sign, but he could very well wear down. He does not think he has the wear and tear of a normal 30-year old running back, but I think it's safe to wait and see what he actually does when steps on the field. The best discussion of why he might regress comes in David Neumann's film breakdown back in March.
Odds of making the roster:
This is where it gets interesting. The team gave him a $500,000 signing bonus, so I think another player would really have to outperform him to take his roster spot. It's not crazy money, but it's enough to be in his favor. Given the turnover at the position, I think the 49ers are going to go as deep as they can with their current group. Carlos Hyde and Mike Davis are locks, and I think Bush and Hunter are strong bubble at this point.
Bush's role could include several different things. He said the team will use more swing passes, and if he is going to find success this year, it will be in the short passing game. The 49ers have rarely used the screen pass in recent years, so Bush could get involved there. Additionally, he has said he wants to get involved in the return game. He took some punt returns in OTAs, and I imagine might get some opportunities in training camp. I think Bruce Ellington ends up with a lot of that work, but if Bush can prove valuable there, it only increases his roster chances.