We’re going to look at each positions departures prior to Week 1 of the 2017 season and see how they fared after leaving the San Francisco 49ers. Some players went on to better careers, while others may be out of the league. We won’t be highlighting every transaction, just some notable ones. Today, we look at the secondary.
We’re lumping the cornerbacks and safeties together as one position. There are two reasons for this, each position didn’t have much turnover as one would expect and because oftentimes the players are depended on to play both spots in a pinch.
In 2016, the secondary wasn’t much to write home about, ranked 14th in pass yards, the 49ers secondary was something rarely tested in the first place. With the atrocious running defense, passing wasn’t exactly in an opposing team’s game plan. All they did (and succeeded doing) was run the ball. When they did need to pass, you could could count on some bending. Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid tried to keep things together the best they could, but with the young talent they had, it sometimes wasn’t enough.
Here’s a list of the more notable departures that is in no way complete. Note that with some exceptions, camp bodies, training camp transactions, and roster cuts during the season are not listed for the most part.
Antoine Bethea (S)
Chris Davis (CB)
Marcus Ball (S)
JaCorey Shepherd (CB)
Vinnie Sunseri (S)
Keith Reaser (CB)
Marcus Cromartie (S)
Will Redmond (CB)
When Donte Whitner left the San Francisco 49ers for the Cleveland Browns, it stung...for all of about five minutes when word was that Indianapolis Colts safety, Antoine Bethea was coming to town.
Bethea started all 16 games in 2014, Jim Harbaugh’s last as head coach. In addition to his first career pick-six, Bethea also managed to put together a Pro Bowl appearance.
Unfortunately after a torn pectoral muscle sidelining him for much of 2015, Bethea could not put together the same numbers in 2016. While his numbers were not bad by any stretch of the imagination; 110 tackles, three passes defended, and one interception; his $5.75 million cap space perhaps wasn’t something the organization wanted in a rebuilding year, so Bethea was released in March at the start of free agency.
Bethea went to the Arizona Cardinals for 2017. He played in 15 games amassing 57 tackles, five interceptions and nine passes defended. He unfortunately suffered another torn pectoral muscle to make injured reserve in week 16.
Longtime cornerback and a member of the 49ers ‘ACL All-Stars’ Keith Reaser had hopeful promise each year of being a 49er. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Reaser was shelved due to a torn ACL. He joined the 49ers in full for 2015, playing in 13 games but starting in none and only amassing six tackles. His numbers improved with 2015, by having five passes defended, but he again started in no games.
Reaser was released after just one game into 2017. The Kansas City Chiefs signed him to the practice squad a few days later and he was called up to the main roster in mid-December. He played in one game, getting a sack and two passes defended.
Officially, Redmond didn’t depart from the team until late October, however given his history as a 3rd round pick, we’ll count him as a 2017 departure. Another member of the ‘ACL All-Stars’, Will Redmond was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft. There were hopes he’d be ready by training camp, but despite a few preseason games, Redmond was unfortunately placed back on injured reserve for his first season. In 2017, Redmond reported to training camp, but an ankle injury led to him getting waived September 1st and placed on injured reserve. Redmond was officially released October 31st. He’s currently on the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad.
Is there anyone from the 49ers secondary you’d like back?