I haven't gone back and watched everything from Saturday's game between the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans, but one thing I did get a chance to spend some time on was running back and returner Jarryd Hayne. Obviously, we've already talked about his strong performance running the football and fielding punts, but I wanted to take a look at the return game as a whole.
Coming into Saturday's game, the 49ers listed running back Reggie Bush as the starter on kick and punt returns. This was somewhat worrying, given the fact that Bush hasn't been a great punt returner in some time, and the fact that the last time he returned a kick was 2010.
Jim Tomsula did have the fair point that Bush is the most proven guy currently on the roster at those positions. That's true, I was just a little worried about Bush getting the job before really earning it. Fortunately, after Saturday's game, I think there's obviously going to be some competition at the positions going forward in training camp and the preseason.
Hayne took two punt returns 24 yards, and while that stat line isn't going to blow anyone away, he did a lot of work with a little room. He made multiple guys miss him, and looked like an absolute natural fielding those punts. If I have one concern, it's on whether or not he'll know when to call for a fair catch. As some folks have pointed out on Twitter, he's probably feeling pretty confident with pads on. But he'll need to know when there's nothing there.
He also handled a kick return and took it 33 yards, which was nice. Wide receiver DeAndrew White handled a pair of those as well, and took one for 20 yards. He finished with two returns for 39 yards total. Neither guy blew me away returning the ball, but both looked good doing it, at the very least. White may also need to learn when to take the touchback, though we didn't get many opportunities to see if that's a trend or not.
Bush is the starter, or at least he was heading into Saturday. I have to wonder if the 49ers feel like that's not the case already after the preseason opener. If not, I'd imagine there is a battle to be had regardless, and I know I'll be rooting for the ex-rugby league player, myself.