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What Antoine Bethea release means for 49ers safety depth chart

The 49ers cleared out a notable veteran as they turn over their defense. What’s next?

The San Francisco 49ers released safety Antoine Bethea on Tuesday afternoon, clearing out a second notable contract following the Tuesday morning release of wide receiver Torrey Smith. The writing was on the wall for Bethea with the new coaching staff, front office, and defensive look, but it is still a big deal as the 49ers are clearing out some big names.

The question now is what the plan is at the safety position. The team currently has Eric Reid and Jaquiski Tartt as starting caliber safeties. During the NFL Combine, head coach Kyle Shanahan said Jimmie Ward was capable of playing both positions, but his role was still being discussed. The next day, GM John Lynch said Ward had the traits to play free safety, but they would need to see how it worked out actually seeing him in the role on the field.

If the 49ers move Ward to free safety, or potentially draft Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker, they will have some decisions to make about Eric Reid and Jaquiski Tartt. Reid is entering his option year, while Tartt is in year three of his four-year rookie deal. Will we see one in a Kam Chancellor role, while the other rotates in? Will Reid potentially be traded or released? The least result seems to be Reid at free safety and Tartt at strong safety, but I suppose we can include it as well.

There are a lot of potential combinations, so I’ve attempted to put together a poll with the options. I don’t see a veteran addition, but I just lumped it together with “rookie” as an option. Based on all that, how do you see the Week 1 safety situation looking? It is possible we could see some kind of rotation, but for the listed starters, vote below.