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.
I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.
That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.
Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.
That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.
But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).
In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.
One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.
The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.
The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.
Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.
The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.
The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.
Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.