Bethea and the Cardinals have reached agreement on a three-year contract, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports. Released by the 49ers on Tuesday, the 32-year-old Bethea didn't need much time to find a new home in the NFC West. He'll likely be replacing Tony Jefferson, who had 96 tackles in 15 games last season, and is now expected to sign with the Ravens, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Bethea topped 100 tackles last season for the first time since accomplishing the feat in each year from 2010 to 2013. Heading into his 12th professional season, he's still a solid starter and an IDP asset.
Bethea was released by the 49ers on Tuesday, Joe Fann of the team's official site reports. Bethea spent the past three seasons in the bay, starting in 29 games for the 49ers. He ended his 2016 campaign with a team-high 141 tackles, an interception, and three pass defensed. The 32-year-old has proven he still has something left in the tank and should draw interest from several teams during free agency.
Bethea finished the 2016 campaign with 110 tackles (95 solo) and an interception. Bethea had a renaissance year for the 49ers, finishing above 100 tackles for the first time since 2013. Never known for his ball-hawking abilities, the veteran safety brings value through his ability to rack up tackles. The increased tackle total can be attributed to good health (started all 16 games) and opposing teams running the ball heavily against San Francisco. Barring major offseason changes, the 49ers are likely to face a barrage of runs again next season, making Bethea a quality IDP target.
Bethea logged 10 tackles (nine solo) in Sunday's loss to Atlanta. With the 49ers being decimated by injuries, Bethea actually logged a handful of snaps at inside linebacker Sunday. While the brief position change may have helped his tackle totals, the veteran safety was doing enough on his own to put up solid IDP totals in 2016. With two games left on the schedule, Bethea needs just four tackles to reach the century mark for the first time in a 49ers' uniform.
Bethea recorded a team-high nine tackles (seven solo) in Sunday's 23-20 loss to Arizona. Bethea has been eating up tackles while NaVorro Bowman (Achilles) has been sidelined. His 62 tackles through nine games have him on pace to finish above the century mark for the first time in a 49ers' uniform. He currently leads the team in total tackles and ranks in the top 10 among NFL safeties in that category.
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