San Francisco 49ers running back Reggie Bush was really good at doing football things at one time. That time has passed, and while I think Bush has something to offer this team, I think it's pretty clear that something isn't returning kicks or punts, and I didn't draw that conclusion from Saturday's game.
Jim Tomsula named Bush his starting kick and punt returner before the first preseason game and on Saturday, Bush finally took his first return in a 49ers uniform, and it did not go well. I'm going to avoid hyperbole and suggest that Bush probably does have more to offer than what he showed in the single punt return he took for 4 yards, but I wasn't encouraged by the one he let fall right in front of him and watched bounce all the way to the 3-yard line.
That one was rough.
The reason I'm concerned with when it comes to the running game is the fact that I don't know if Bush was named the starter because he was simply the most proven at the time or if the 49ers really believe he should have the job. It was especially distressing to see Bush return the first couple punts of the game while Jarryd Hayne waited until the second half to even find his way onto the field.
No, we can't claim that Hayne is the answer at returner and that he's about to take the NFL by storm. We can't claim that based on two preseason games, but all indications to me are that he has more to offer from the spot than Bush does at this point.
Hayne had one return for 12 yards. DeAndrew White returned one kick for 30 yards and Bruce Ellington returned one kick for 20 yards. It's my opinion that White is the best option at kick returner and Hayne is the best option at punt returner, but I have no way of knowing if that's how the 49ers feel.
These guys have to go out and earn the jobs, and I bet Tomsula feels that way as well. It wouldn't make sense for Tomsula to name a guy playing in his third ever football game the team's starting punt returner. But I sure do hope things are trending in that direction.
In reality, the third preseason game showed us almost nothing about the return game, echoing my previous thoughts in the Golden Nuggets that this game was basically a big shrug from both teams.