San Francisco 49ers: Antoine Bethea

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Three San Francisco 49ers players appear in the #ESPNRank project between Nos. 60 and 51 among offensive players. That part of the rankings was released Friday.

Crabtree
Iupati
Boldin
Receiver Anquan Boldin was No. 54, a year after being No. 83.

“Boldin led the NFL in third-down receptions (33), receiving yards (529) and first downs (529) last season,” according to ESPN Stats & Info. “His 1,179 receiving yards in 2013 were the most by a 49er since Terrell Owens in 2002.”

Left guard Mike Iupati was No. 53 (he was 32nd last year) and receiver Michael Crabtree was No. 51, improving from No. 78.

“Crabtree’s drop percentage has gone down each year of his career (3.2 percent last season),” ESPN Stats & Information wrote. “He averaged a career-high 7.0 yards after the catch (per reception) last season despite coming off an Achilles injury.”

Other 49ers players already listed: right tackle Anthony Davis, who was No. 81 among offensive players. Strong safety Antoine Bethea (No. 97), linebacker Ahmad Brooks (No. 74) and free safety Eric Reid (No. 71) are in the rankings of defensive players so far.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Strong safety Antoine Bethea, who suffered a concussion last Sunday, practiced Friday while wearing the noncontact blue jersey over his uniform, seemingly confirming San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh’s take from earlier in the day.

Bethea
“I think that’s likely that he would be cleared to play Sunday,” Harbaugh said. “But I don’t think we’re going to play him on Sunday.”

The 49ers play host to the San Diego Chargers at Levi's Stadium in each team’s third exhibition game. Bethea suffered a concussion in the second quarter of the 49ers’ 34-0 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Bethea came to the 49ers as a free agent after eight seasons and two Pro Bowl appearances with the Indianapolis Colts.

In other injury news, right tackle Anthony Davis suited up fully for practice for the first time since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. He told reporters earlier this week that he did not have to play in an exhibition game to be ready for the 49ers’ season opener Sept. 7 at the Dallas Cowboys. Davis has not missed a game in his four-year career.

Also, linebacker Patrick Willis (stinger) was still wearing the blue jersey, as was nose tackle Mike Purcell (unknown).

Receiver Michael Crabtree was back after being in Texas for the birth of his son Michael III on Monday.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers free safety Eric Reid has an idea as to what new teammate and strong safety Antoine Bethea is going through this week as he undergoes the NFL-mandated concussion protocol after being injured Sunday.

Bethea
Reid
"I can definitely relate," Reid said this week. "It happened to me twice last year."

Indeed, Reid suffered two concussions as a rookie, in a Week 2 loss at the Seattle Seahawks and in the 49ers’ ninth game of the season, a Nov. 9 defeat at the Carolina Panthers.

Still, Reid, the 49ers’ first-round pick at No. 18 overall, did not miss a game and was chosen for the Pro Bowl after recording four interceptions, second-most among NFL rookies in 2013.

Entering this season, Reid is ranked No. 71 among all defensive players in the ESPN.com #NFLRanks project.

But with Bethea, signed as a free agent after eight seasons and two Pro Bowl campaigns with the Indianapolis Colts, concussed in the second quarter of the 49ers’ 34-0 exhibition loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, there is a sense of urgency in the 49ers’ secondary.

Sunday evening, Bethea Tweeted the following:

.

Said Reid later in the week: "Antoine’s going to be OK, but there are other guys that have got to step up."

Guys like Craig Dahl, who had five tackles against the Broncos after Bethea left the game, and D.J. Campbell.

Though coach Jim Harbaugh would not say where Bethea was in the protocol, Reid said Bethea was not showing "many post-concussion symptoms" on Tuesday.

"Guys that are playing in the preseason are one play away from being a starter," Reid said. "We have to take advantage of practice and get better."

Reid said he has improved this offseason in his "vision" on the field.

"Just going through progressions," he said, "trying to see it all more."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Two more San Francisco 49ers players check in Wednesday on ESPN.com’s Top 100 players list.

Linebacker Ahmad Brooks is No. 74 among defensive players while safety Eric Reid is ranked No. 71.

"Brooks recorded a postseason-best 4.5 sacks last year, the most in a postseason since 2010 (Terrell Suggs, five)," read the list. "During the regular season, Brooks also set a career high with 8.5 sacks."

Reid, meanwhile, has become an elder statesman, of sorts, in the 49ers' secondary with fellow safety Antoine Bethea currently concussed.

"Eric Reid intercepted four passes in 2013," the report read, "second-most among rookies last season."

Brooks and Reid join Bethea and right tackle Anthony Davis, who were ranked No. 97 and No. 81 on the defensive and offensive lists, respectively.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – A pair of currently injured San Francisco 49ers have made appearances in ESPN.com’s Top 100 players list.

Safety Antoine Bethea, who joined the 49ers this offseason and suffered a concussion in Sunday’s 34-0 exhibition loss to the Denver Broncos, checked in at No. 97 among defensive players in the poll. He is currently in the NFL-mandated concussion protocol, though coach Jim Harbaugh did not say at which stage on Tuesday. Fellow safety Eric Reid, though, said Bethea was not showing “very many post-concussion symptoms.”

Bethea, who has had at least 100 tackles in each of the past four seasons, and five of six, was not in the Top 100 a year ago. According to the project, no defensive back has more tackles than Bethea since he came into the league in 2006.

Right tackle Anthony Davis, meanwhile, was at No. 81 among offensive players a year after being No. 60. Davis did individual work during practice Tuesday for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery this offseason.

Davis, whose reps have been taken thus far by Jonathan Martin, has never missed a game in four seasons. “The 49ers have averaged 5.1 yards per rush when running to the right during that span, fourth-best in the NFL,” the project read.
Examining the San Francisco 49ers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Because of heavy competition elsewhere, the 49ers will likely only carry two quarterbacks. They finished last season that way. The competition will be to see if undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner can take McLeod Bethel-Thompson's spot on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

The fact that the 49ers drafted Hyde in the second round and Lattimore is healthy means some tough decisions will have to be made. Hunter is too valuable to let go. That means 2012 second-round pick LaMichael James will have difficulty making the roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

The 49ers are so much deeper here this year than last. That means they will likely have to keep six receivers. Lloyd may look good and Patton has too much potential to give up on. That means it could be tough for Kassim Osgood to make it even though he is a special teams cog.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

If Davis ends his holdout, I can't see the 49ers keeping more than three tight ends because of the glut at receiver. Unless Garrett Celek has a big camp, he may be in trouble. Carrier intrigues the 49ers because of his size and speed.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

Assuming Boone ends his holdout, this is a pretty nice group of eight players. It's improved from last year. A solid veteran like Adam Snyder and a promising youngster like Ryan Seymour will have trouble making the team.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

This is another power spot. It's deep. Players like Jerod-Eddie and Dial are too valuable to cut. Ramsey has looked good and I have a hunch the 49ers may like him too much to expose him to the waiver wire. That means Demarcus Dobbs could be in trouble.

LINEBACKERS (7)

Most teams carry six linebackers but the 49ers are stacked here, especially with NaVorro Bowman out for about half the season. Because fifth-round pick Lynch is promising he should make the roster. Dan Skuta is an excellent player, but there might not be any room for him. I could see him being one of those later-summer Trent Baalke trade specials because he has value.

CORNERBACKS (5)

This unit is in flux, but I see Johnson making it. Don't be surprised if there is some in-camp jockeying as the 49ers look for the best mix.

SAFETIES (5)

Ward, the 49ers' first-round pick, will play nickel cornerback as a rookie, but projects long term as a safety. Ventrone and Spillman should stick because they are great on special teams. Craig Dahl could be in trouble.

SPECIALISTS (3):

This group is set and it's excellent.
Weekend mail call:

Mike from Oakland wants to know if Joe Looney can handle the right guard position in the regular season if Alex Boone's holdout lasts that long.

Bill Williamson: I think it gets to the point where Boone is out in September. I think Jonathan Martin -- who is the sixth offensive lineman -- could get a look as guard. Martin hasn't played guard in the NFL, but the 49ers could use him there. Looney has had success on a limited basis, but expecting him to play at the level of Boone may be a stretch.

Gerald from San Diego wants to know if the 49ers like Blaine Gabbert so far.

BW: So far, so good. The coaching staff likes his ability and his development so far. But I think the staff wants to work with him through the summer to continue to help him development. The key is for Gabbert to get to the point that he can help the 49ers win should he have to play.

Henry from San Francisco wants to know how Antoine Bethea is fitting in with the 49ers' secondary

BW: Very well. Bethea is a pro and he fits in with the 49ers' scheme. The 49ers may occasionally miss Donte Whitner's crushing hits. But many scouts think Bethea may be a better overall fit and there will not be a drop off.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers secondary is undergoing a major change as the team added several new players to the unit. At the 49ers' minicamp Wednesday, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio addressed some of them and what he expects.

Let's take a look:

On first-round pick Jimmie Ward who is expected to be the nickel cornerback: "He's going to certainly get every opportunity [to be the nickel]. But, he's missed all this time [with a foot injury] and he's learning and he's a rookie, etc. And we'll all have to be a little patient with him. ... I think he's done everything he can under his circumstances to learn our defense and improve. But, he's got to go do it."

On free-agent pickup Antoine Bethea, who will replace Donte Whitner in the starting lineup: "I think he came in here with the right mindset to learn the defense, to learn the assignments and the techniques and how we want to play them. So, he's been in a learning mode. Once he feels more and more comfortable, I think he'll even be a positive influence on the team from an intangible role and be a leader in his own way. So, been pleased with his progress and I think he'll ultimately be a good player for us."

On free-agent pickup Chris Cook, who is expected to be part of the cornerback rotation: "Chris Cook is a guy that was at Minnesota the last four years. And things didn't pan out for him there like they had hoped and like he had hoped. And hopefully we can get him here and get that out of him what they were hoping for and what he was hoping for. And we'll see. He's definitely made progress. He still has a ways to go and he's going to have to ultimately do it on the field, in practice, and ultimately in the games, to be considered one of the guys for either in the top four in the base, or the top five in the nickel."
As training camp creeps closer, let’s take a look at what has gone on so far with the 49ers this offseason:

Returning free agents: Receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright, receiver Kassim Osgood, cornerback Perrish Cox.

2015 free agents extended: Center Daniel Kilgore, fullback Bruce Miller.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Cleveland), cornerback Tarell Brown (Oakland), running back Anthony Dixon (Buffalo), receiver Mario Manningham (Giants), quarterback Colt McCoy (Redskins), center Jonathan Goodwin (Saints).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers. He signed with Oakland.

Free-agent additions: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts), cornerback Chris Cook (Vikings), receiver Brandon Lloyd (last with Patriots in 2012), quarterback Josh Johnson (released by Cincinnati), linebacker Blake Costanzo (Bears).

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami, receiver Stevie Johnson from Buffalo.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Kilgore for Goodwin, Chris Culliver for Brown.

49ers offseason wrap-up

May, 22, 2014
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» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the San Francisco 49ers' offseason moves.

[+] EnlargeStevie Johnson
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesThe 49ers added depth to their receiving corps by acquiring Stevie Johnson.
Best move: Making offense a priority. The 49ers' re-signed receiver Anquan Boldin and kicker Phil Dawson in a free agency in which they signed only two outside veterans. During the draft, they added veteran receiver Stevie Johnson in a trade with the Buffalo Bills, then drafted a tumbling Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde in the second round. This offense now has a lot of firepower. These moves really solidified the unit.

Riskiest move: Change in the secondary. The 49ers will have three new starters in the secondary after seeing safety Donte Whitner and cornerback Tarell Brown leave in free agency and after cutting Carlos Rogers. Whitner was the only one the 49ers had interest in keeping, but he was too pricey. The 49ers made a nice move of bringing in a comparable player -- safety Antoine Bethea from the Colts. Chris Culliver, who was injured in 2013, and first-round pick Jimmie Ward will play in the nickel. I think these changes should work well, especially since the meat of the 49ers' defense is the front seven. But when there are such wholesale changes, it's a question mark.

Most surprising move: Making 12 draft picks. The 49ers entered the draft with 11 picks, but with few needs. Yet the 49ers ended up with 12, which was tied for most in the NFL. I don't think more than seven or eight of the draft picks have a chance to make this stacked roster. Of course, the 49ers took a few injured players to stash, which only helps the entire program. It's difficult to imagine a deeper team than San Francisco in the league.

Receiver depth: I cannot emphasize this enough -- it's stunning how much depth the 49ers now have at receiver when compared to last season. With Michael Crabtree hurt for much of the year, the 49ers received virtually no production from the position other than from Boldin. Now, the 49ers are loaded at with Boldin, Crabtree, Johnson, second-year player Quinton Patton (who missed much of the season with a broken foot) and speedy fourth-round pick Bruce Ellington. This is the biggest difference on the team.
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers were supposed to be powerbrokers of the first round.

Everyone was expecting them to go make the big move for a top-end receiver in an effort to compete with Super Bowl champion -- and heated NFC West rival -- Seattle.

Instead, the 49ers ended up addressing their one true need -- albeit in an unexpected way.

Instead of trading up for stud LSU receiver Odell Beckham or taking one of the glamour cornerbacks, the 49ers grabbed Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward with the 30th pick.

At first glance, it smacked of a curious reach. Yes, Ward was a scout's favorite, but he was considered more of a second-round pick. And he played a position the 49ers made their biggest offseason investment at -- by signing veteran Antoine Bethea to a four-year, $23 million deal.

With receivers Cody Latimer and Marqise Lee still on the board, picking Ward did not initially appear to make much sense. But after digesting the pick, I could see why the 49ers made this pick.

The 49ers' benchmark is defense. With star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman out until about midseason with a torn ACL and star linebacker Aldon Smith's future clouded by a potential NFL suspension, the 49ers need to keep their edge in the early season.

This move should ensure they stay stout in the secondary. In addition to safety Donte Whitner (who Bethea replaces), the 49ers parted ways with their second and third cornerbacks -- Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers -- this offseason. Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver are expected to start.

The 49ers want to see Ward become the nickel. He played there often at Northern Illinois. Some teams are using safeties as a nickel and it seems the 49ers are going that route.

There were rumblings the 49ers didn't like any of the four cornerbacks that went in the first round -- Justin Gilbert, Kyle Fuller, Darqueze Dennard and Jason Verrett. They had the means to trade up and pick any of them and didn't.

Instead, they eyed the hard-hitting, competitive and smart Ward.

This may be out of the box, but it seems like a 49ers move. Having Reid, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie last season, the steady Bethea and Ward on the field together makes this a strong secondary.

49ers general manager Trent Baalke raved about Ward's competitive nature. Coach Jim Harbaugh simply said: "He loves football."

Baalke, who saw Ward play live once, said it was telling that when he asked scouts which games of Ward's he should watch, multiple scouts said, "Pick one." It was Ward's consistency that stood out to the 49ers.

Ward, who had the second most interceptions in the country last season with seven, led his team in tackles and interceptions the past two seasons. Baalke doesn't think coming from a smaller conference will be too much for Ward.

"The stage isn't too big for him," Baalke said.

Ward showed he had the mental toughness for the NFL when he ran for scouts with a broken foot, which is expected to be completely healed by training camp. Ward posted a 4.48 40-time on a bad wheel. That made Baalke smile.

The 49ers may not have stolen headlines with this pick, but they did add a key component to what makes them the 49ers -- an ornery defense.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The pick: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois.

My take: Stunned. Ward is a fine player, but considered by some as a second-round pick. The 49ers have now taken safeties in the first round of the past two drafts. They traded up to take Eric Reid last year. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The 49ers signed Antoine Bethea to a four-year, $23 million deal in March after Donte Whitner left to join the Cleveland Browns. Ward could see some time in nickel packages as the 49ers are somewhat weak at cornerback.

No trade up: There was speculation the 49ers would trade up for a receiver such as LSU's Odell Beckham or Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks. But those deals never developed and the 49ers will have five of the 68 selections Friday.

What’s next: The 49ers have more picks than anyone in the second and third rounds. Expect the 49ers to make some trades Friday. They can grab a receiver and a cornerback in the second round. Those spots remain the 49ers’ biggest needs.

Updated offseason scorecard

April, 16, 2014
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Free agency continues and the San Francisco 49ers have been busy making roster changes. Let’s take a look at what has gone on so far:

Returning free agents: Receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright, receiver Kassim Osgood, cornerback Perrish Cox.

2015 free agents extended: Center Daniel Kilgore, fullback Bruce Miller.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Cleveland), cornerback Tarell Brown (Oakland), running back Anthony Dixon (Buffalo), receiver Mario Manningham (Giants), quarterback Colt McCoy (Redskins).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers. He signed with Oakland.

Free agent addition: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts), Cornerback Chris Cook (Vikings), Receiver Brandon Lloyd (last with Patriots in 2012).

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami.

Reportedly interested in: Receiver Josh Morgan (Washington free agent), but there hasn’t been any movement in the past several weeks, and the Lloyd signing likely ends any Morgan thoughts.

Remaining free agent: Center Jonathan Goodwin.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Kilgore for Goodwin, Chris Culliver or upcoming draft pick for Brown.

Salary-cap look: Defense

April, 15, 2014
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Let’s take a look at how the San Francisco 49ers' 2014 salary-cap status currently breaks down, thanks to ESPN Stats & Information.

The 49ers have about $4 million under the cap and will get another $6 million-plus June 1 because of the Carlos Rogers cut. Most of that money will go to signing the rookie class.

At this time of year, only the top 51 contracts count toward the salary-cap. Here's a position-by-position look at the 49ers' salary-cap situation under the top 51 rule. We looked at the offense on Monday. Now, let’s look at the defense:

Defensive line

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 15.23

Total cap charge: $19,519,371

NFL average: $21,632,204

Biggest cap hit: Justin Smith, $6,936,667

Biggest bargain: Tony Jerod-Eddie, $495,000

Outlook: The 49ers are getting pretty good value out of this position. Smith is nearing the end of his career, but he is still productive. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald’s cap number is more than $5 million, but he’s also productive. The rest of the unit are pretty reasonably priced.

Linebackers

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 22.69

Total cap charge: $29,083,725

NFL average: $15,201,455

Biggest cap hit: NaVorro Bowman, $7,050,000

Biggest bargain: Michael Wilhoite, $570,000

Outlook: The 49ers are paying their linebackers almost double the league average. But it is perhaps the best unit in the NFL. Thus, they are getting what they pay for. Even though he is taking up the most cap room, Bowman will miss about half the season because of a torn ACL. Wilhoite has the best chance to replace him. This position could be even more expensive next year. Aldon Smith has a cap number of more than $4 million this year. The 49ers may give him a 2015 option with a price tag of more than $9 million. But again, the value is there from this group. With quarterback Colin Kaepernick getting more money soon, the 49ers will have to take cap room from other positions, with running back an area that could be reduced in 2015.

Cornerback

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 3.62

Total cap charge: $4,645,719

NFL average: $12,316,626

Biggest cap hit: Tramaine Brock, $2,000,000

Biggest bargain: Darryl Morris, $495,000

Outlook: Along with quarterback (and that will change soon), this is the 49ers’ biggest bargain area. They pay their cornerbacks more than 60 percent less than the NFL average. Yes, the group is young and that is a reason for the low average. The 49ers may use a first-round pick at the position and that will change things. But this position will remain a relative bargain for the next few years, which will help expected raises at other positions.

Safety

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 7.63

Total cap charge: $9,784,111

NFL average: $8,237,006

Biggest cap hit: Antoine Bethea, $3,000,000

Biggest bargain: Eric Reid, $1,927,444

Outlook: The 49ers are just above the league average at safety, but they get production. Reid, a first-round pick last year, gives great value and they also get strong special teams production from C.J. Spillman, Bubba Ventrone and Craig Dahl.
Some fans of the San Francisco 49ers are a bit apprehensive that the team has not been overly busy in bringing in new talent this offseason.

While concentrating on keeping their own free agents, the 49ers added just four veterans. They signed safety Antoine Bethea and cornerback Chris Cook and traded for quarterback Blaine Gabbert and tackle Jonathan Martin.

The small incoming veteran class is keeping in step with many of the winning teams in the NFL. Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, the chart includes the teams that added the fewest players this offseason and their 2013 record.

It's clear that many winning teams -- like the 49ers -- liked their roster and made some tweaks instead of wholesale changes.

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