The San Francisco 49ers released Torrey Smith and Antoine Bethea on Tuesday, and both men have a new job on Thursday. A few years after we heard Smith is headed to Philadelphia, we now know Bethea’s destination. The Arizona Cardinals are signing him to a three-year deal to replace Tony Jefferson, according to Kent Somers.
The 49ers are moving on from Bethea due to a change in defensive scheme and his age. The 49ers are looking at moving Jimmie Ward to free safety, which would result in either Eric Reid or Jaquiski Tartt taking over at strong safety, or the team potentially drafting another safety. There are quite a few options, but with this kind of turnover at the top, it was not surprising when the team released Bethea.
The 49ers will see Bethea twice a year with the Cardinals. He remained a solid run stopper at strong safety, but his skills in pass coverage were always problematic. He had a great 2014, but things slipped from there following an injury in 2015.