Updates from Wednesday, Mar. 12
The 49ers officially announced that they have signed safety Antoine Bathea to a 4-year deal:
Antoine Bethea, officially a Niner. https://t.co/6z7aojDZxz— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) March 12, 2014
49ers GM Trent Baalke spoke about the signing:
GM Trent Baalke: “Antoine is a durable, experienced player who has competed at a high level throughout his career." http://t.co/mziVMdIkOm— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) March 12, 2014
The San Francisco 49ers didn't waste much time overturning the safety position, as former Indianapolis Colt Antoine Bethea was signed to a four-year deal on Tuesday afternoon.
Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee reported the news:
The team has agreed to a deal with long-time Colts free agent Antoine Bethea, who has started every game for Indianapolis since 2008. The deal is for four years. The total amount is not known yet.
Bethea, 29, is a year older than Donte Whitner, who will sign a four-year deal with Cleveland reportedly worth $28 million over four years. Whitner averaged $4 million a year for the last three years. It was the second straight season the 49ers lost a starting safety to a big-money deal elsewhere. Dashon Goldson left for Tampa Bay on a five-year deal that averages more than $8 million a season.
According to NFL on ESPN, the contract details are as follows:
THIS JUST IN: The 49ers have reached agreement with former Colts CB Antoine Bethea on a 4 year $23M deal. pic.twitter.com/ioys6zW1iA— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 11, 2014
Bethea tweeted out the news himself as well:
Glad to be a Niner!! Going to the Bay!!!— Antoine Bethea (@Tweez41) March 11, 2014
Bethea certainly has been productive over the past several years, as ESPN Stats & Info notes:
Antoine Bethea has recorded 100 tackles in each of his last 4 seasons, 5 of last 6. Since entering NFL in 2006, no DB has more tackles (804)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 11, 2014
However, as Pro Football Focus tweeted, he may not be an upgrade at all over Whitner, whom the Cleveland Browns signed Tuesday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Whitner did have the benefit of arguably the best front seven in all of football in front of him, however, which likely helped his grade. For that same reason, Bethea's tackle numbers will probably go down a bit in San Francisco, as NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis have made it a habit of swallowing up any and all ball-carriers.
The Niners already released Carlos Rogers this offseason, so the secondary in San Francisco will certainly look a lot different in 2014.
Bethea will slot into the strong safety role for the 49ers, pairing with young standout Eric Reid. In an offseason when the Niners let go of several veteran presences in the locker room, adding an experienced player like Bethea who still produces is a major plus.
He is also durable, having not missed a single regular-season game in the past six seasons. Along with his proficiency in collecting tackles from the secondary, he's also recovered four fumbles and added 14 interceptions in his career.