Antoine Bethea Likely Played His Last Game For The San Francisco 49ers

After suffering a season-ending injury, Antoine Bethea is likely going to be heading out the door from the San Francisco 49ers.

During the game against the Seattle Seahawks this week, Antoine Bethea suffered a pectoral injury. After an extensive examination by the San Francisco 49ers medical staff, the longtime NFL star was informed that his season was over. The 49ers had no choice but to put Bethea on the injured reserve list.

As many already know, the San Francisco 49ers had a historic NFL off season where they lost a ton of talent. This season was the start of a rebuilding period. With so many younger players on the roster, the 49ers knew that they would have to rely on their talented veterans to help get them by.

The San Francisco 49ers had a suspect secondary as is. With the loss of Antoine Bethea, their chances of being blown out by a good NFL quarterback increases tremendously. That percentage was already high before Bethea was injured.

As is the case with most injuries in the NFL, the silver lining is that the Antoine Bethea injury is going to open the door for younger players to show what they have. Dontae Johnson, Jimmy Ward, and Jaquiski Tartt now have an opportunity to show the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff their potential.

Back in 2014, the San Francisco 49ers spent a fourth round pick on Dontae Johnson in the NFL Draft. He was chosen to provide depth at the corner back position. However, Johnson is versatile enough to play the safety position as well. The 49ers have used Johnson in that spot on occasions. Johnson will more than likely get some of the reps left behind by Antoine Bethea.

San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward [Photo by Christian Petersen / Getty Images]
San Francisco 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt [Photo by Alex Goodlett / Getty Images]

If Dontae Johnson, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt do enough to convince the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff that they are capable of being good NFL players, then the need to bring back Antoine Bethea is reduced greatly. Since the 49ers are rebuilding, they might lean more towards playing younger players anyway.

Another factor working against Antoine Bethea is the fact that he is now 32 years old. Players often have a tendency to decline around his age. It also does not help Bethea that he played a very brutal style of of football. While that made him beloved by the fan bases and coaching staffs, his years in the NFL also took a toll on his body.

A bigger factor working against Antoine Bethea is his salary. Bethea is due to make $4.5 million. That is a figure that the San Francisco 49ers might view as a luxury on a rebuilding team. For that amount of money, the 49ers could upgrade their heavily depleted offensive line. A very battered and bruised Colin Kaepernick would be greatly appreciative of that.

Though short, Antoine Bethea had a sweet run with the San Francisco 49ers.

[ Featured Photo by Christian Petersen / Getty Images ]