The 49ers on Tuesday announced the release of safety Antoine Bethea.
Bethea, 32, becomes the second veteran to be released by the 49ers this week. On Monday, the 49ers informed wide receiver Torrey Smith of his release.
“Antoine is a true professional in every sense and I have a great deal of respect for the way he has gone about his business throughout his career,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “We would like to thank him for the positive impact he has had on this team both as a player and as a leader, on and off the field. We wish Antoine, and his family, great success in the future.”
Bethea signed a four-year, $21 million contract with the 49ers in 2014. In his first season with the club, he was named the winner of the Bill Walsh Award as the 49ers’ most valuable player.
After his season was cut short after seven games due to an injury in 2015, Bethea rebounded to start all 16 games last year. He led the team in tackles.
But the 49ers determined Bethea, who was scheduled to earn $5.25 million in base salary in 2017, was not a good system fit for the 49ers’ new defensive scheme.
Last week, 49ers general manager John Lynch spoke optimistically about Jimmie Ward being able to transition to play free safety in the defense that coordinator Robert Saleh will install. The 49ers also believe Jaquiski Tartt, with limited responsibilities, could thrive as the strong safety. Eric Reid, a first-round draft pick in 2013, has started all 57 games in which he appeared in his first four seasons.
Bethea entered the NFL in 2006 as a sixth-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts. He spent his first eight NFL seasons with the Colts, earning two trips to the Pro Bowl.