49ers Release Former Colts Longtime Standout Safety Antoine Bethea

lschultheis
December 20, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) celebrates scoring a touchdown off an interception during the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
December 20, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) celebrates scoring a touchdown off an interception during the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The San Francisco 49ers announced on Tuesday that the team has released former longtime Indianapolis Colts standout safety Antoine Bethea:

The 32 year old safety was due a $7 million cap hit with the 49ers next season and was set to enter the last year of his 4-year, $21 million contract signed in 2014.

Sep 8, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Antoine Bethea (41) celebrates with safety Sergio Brown (38) after an interception with 25 seconds left against the Oakland Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts defeated the Raiders 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Antoine Bethea (41) celebrates with safety Sergio Brown (38) after an interception with 25 seconds left against the Oakland Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts defeated the Raiders 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Bethea made all 16 starts for the 49ers last season, recording a team high 110 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and an interception.

Of course, Bethea has played the majority of his career with the Indianapolis Colts (2006-13), where he was a 2x Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XLI Champion, prior to joining the 49ers.

As a 2006 6th round pick by Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian out of unheralded Howard, Bethea was an absolute hidden gem found by the Colts in the later rounds of the draft.

While fellow star safety Bob Sanders drew the majority of the headlines, it was Bethea who was arguably the more dependable defensive back–anchoring the back of the Indianapolis secondary during that winning era of Colts football.

Oct 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs the ball defended by San Francisco 49ers safety Antoine Bethea (41) during the third quarter at Levi’s Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs the ball defended by San Francisco 49ers safety Antoine Bethea (41) during the third quarter at Levi’s Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

Right now, it looks like a significant mistake that the Colts let Bethea go in free agency in 2014, as former general manager Ryan Grigson unsuccessfully replaced him with colossal bust LaRon Landry–whereas Bethea was a Pro Bowler for the 49ers in 2014.

As far as a Colts reunion, it looks highly unlikely.

The Colts have already stated their intention to ‘move on’ from another veteran safety, Mike Adams, this offseason. While Bethea is a few years younger, the Colts defense as a whole needs to get younger, faster, and more athletic on a unit that is ‘rebuilding’.

My guess is Bethea can still start, be productive, and help a team at safety, but he’d be better served joining a contending team as a veteran stopgap and leader–rather than join a bit of a ‘rebuilding’ effort’ that the Colts defense is currently undergoing.

facebooktwitterreddit