The 49ers and running back Reggie Bush have agreed to terms on a contract, a league source confirmed. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Bush, who visited the 49ers Wednesday, had a meeting with the Patriots Friday. The former USC star has decided to return to California and to join a backfield that includes Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter. Hyde, a second-round pick in 2014, is likely to get most of the carries in 2015 with others playing complementary roles.
Bush, 30, has been a prolific pass catcher out of the backfield over his career -- he has 3,489 career receiving yards -- and the 49ers plan to utilize the screen game more than they have in recent years. According to Pro Football Focus, the 49ers attempted five screens to running backs last season. That number likely will rise sharply will the addition of Bush.
General manager Trent Baalke said in 2011 that he’d like to see a tailback-by-committee approach by the 49ers. With Frank Gore in the backfield, that was difficult to accomplish. Gore was an excellent pass blocker on third downs and rarely wanted to leave the game.
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The Colts on Wednesday signed Gore to a three-year deal. Later in the day Baalke said every-down runners like Gore are hard to find.
“It’s tough,” he said. “You look at today’s game compared to 20 years ago. It’s a different approach because there are a lot more personnel groupings that offenses are using to attack. It’s hard to find that one guy that can (play) all three (downs).”
Bush, a 10-year veteran, ran for only 297 yards and two touchdowns last year in an injury-shortened season for the Lions. The year prior, however, he went over 1,000 yards on the ground and had another 505 yards -- and three touchdowns -- as a receiver out of the backfield.
Bush was a high-school teammate of former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. He also has visited with and endorsed newly signed running back Jarryd Hayne in Australia. The former Rugby League player will try to earn a roster spot this offseason, perhaps as a punt and kick returner.
Bush also has experience in that area of the game, although he hasn’t handled a punt since 2011.
At the end of the 2005 season, Bush’s final year with the Trojans, the bottom-dwelling 49ers and Texans played the so-called “Bush Bowl” with the loser presumably in prime position to take Bush with the first pick in the draft.
The Texans lost in overtime 20-17. But they ended up taking defensive end Mario Williams with the first overall pick instead of Bush, who went No. 2 overall to the Saints. The 49ers drafted tight end Vernon Davis with the sixth pick.
The Lions released Bush last month. That means he will not count against the 49ers as far as compensatory picks for the 2016 draft.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.