Antoine Bethea is one of the most accomplished safeties in the NFL. The former sixth-round pick is a Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro Bowler. His last two seasons, however, haven’t been easy.
Bethea signed with the 49ers in 2014 – just in time for Jim Harbaugh’s drama-filled final season in the Bay Area – and he was limited to seven games in 2015 with a torn pectoral. He was placed on season-ending IR in October.
Still, Bethea is excited for a fresh start in 2016. That fresh start is due in large part to new head coach Chip Kelly, who was fired after going 26-21 in three seasons in Philadelphia.
Some people love Kelly; some people don’t love Kelly. Bethea is keeping an open mind.
“I haven’t really heard much (about him),” Bethea said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I really can’t have much contact with him until that new league season starts. I’ve heard things just like everybody else heard things. But at the end of the day, as men, you got to dissect and see the situation for yourself and that’s what I’m going to wait and do. I’m pretty sure everybody’s going to have the same goal in mind: to win and be in Houston next year. So we’ll just see, take it one day at a time and just try to improve on last year.”
Wait, Bethea already knows where next year’s Super Bowl is?
“Already,” he said, laughing. “My season was cut short, so I’m focused, man. I’m focused.”
The 49ers finished a disappointing 5-11 this season – their worst finish since 2007. Jim Tomsula, at times, seemed overwhelmed this year, but Bethea said that wasn’t actually the case.
“I think it was the perception,” Bethea said. “Coach Tomsula was a great coach, great guy, cared for his players. I just think it was perception that people see on TV or whatever the case may be. I’m pretty sure it was a tough year on him, a tough year on everybody. But it’s a business. We’ll see where it goes from there.”
We’ll also see who the 49ers’ starting quarterback is next season. Colin Kaepernick seems like he would excel in Kelly’s up-tempo offense, but he reportedly wants out of San Francisco.
“With Chip Kelly coming in and just knowing his history and style of offense that he runs, I would think Kap would fit perfect in that offense,” Bethea said. “But we’ll see, man.”