Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
There’s something to be said for having a lot of experience in a position and that’s exactly what Antoine Bethea has. He has a clear understanding of the game that still even surprises fellow safety Eric Reid who had this to say about Bethea during OTAs:
It's just experience. When you play the game 10 plus years I don't know if there's anything you haven't seen. I know the year before I got here, they did the gun read with Colin and stuff. It's rare when you see something new. Football is football at the end of the day. The flat is always the flat, the A-gap is always the A-gap. So he just sees something and he sees it fast. So you see a formation line up, and he's calling something and I'm looking at him like "alright" and they do it, they do what he says. He just has that experience.
Bethea is very vocal pre snap and his leadership was missed during the second half of the 2015 season after he was placed on IR with a torn pectoral muscle. He participated in the entire offseason program and is back to his normal routine, including lifting.
Experience: in his 11th season
Bethea signed a four year, $21 million contract with the 49ers in 2014. He received $6.25 million in fully guaranteed salary that included a $5 million signing bonus. In each year of the contract he can earn a total of $400,000 in per game roster bonuses and $100,000 in workout bonuses. Base salaries for the remaining two years are $4,500,000(2016) and $5,250,000(2017)
Why he should improve:
Bethea has so much experience that he shouldn’t have any problem adjusting to a new scheme. He actually mentioned during OTAs that he has already played in a very similar system in his last two seasons in Indianapolis under Greg Manusky.
Bethea easily stepped back into his leadership role and whether he’s on the field or off, his presence and influence is felt. Jaquiski Tartt did an exceptional job of stepping in for the injured veteran and will continue to see his playing time increase as a solid back up, but the job is really Bethea’s to lose.
Why he could regress:
Coming back from any season ending injury is a challenge. As mentioned before Tartt is preparing in the wings but barring injury, I don’t see any reason that Bethea would regress. He is a talented and intelligent player who is able to adjust as needed. He defies the phrase of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks.
Odds of making the roster:
Even as the second most experienced player on the team (tied with Ahmad Brooks), Bethea will be on the roster. Only Phil Dawson has more time with this being his 18th season in the NFL, Joe Staley and Erik Pears both are in their 10th.