In the preseason, wins and losses are almost entirely for show.
So when the San Francisco 49ers fell, 34-0, in their Levi’s® Stadium debut to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the team’s biggest loss wasn’t the final score. Instead, it came when free-agent acquisition
The veteran strong safety now must go through the NFL’s protocol dealing with head injuries before he can return to the field. The process involves a step-by-step program with checkpoints along the way to ensure that the player doesn’t overexert himself too soon.
I'm doing well and I appreciate all of the concern!!— Antoine Bethea (@ABethea24) August 18, 2014
“It’s based on how they respond with their symptoms,” Jim Harbaugh said when asked how long Bethea would be out. “When they’re asymptomatic, then they’re progressed to running. And then another day goes by, or two, until they’re not symptomatic and show they’re not symptomatic from running and exerting themselves.
"Then it progresses to practice without contact. Again, if they’re asymptomatic, then it progresses to contact again. See what the symptoms there are, if any. If not, then they’re progressed back into playing.”
With three weeks separating Sunday’s game from the 49ers regular-season opener in Dallas on Sept. 7, it seems feasible that Bethea would be ready in time. The team, however, won’t rush his return.
The veteran’s absence in the interim will open up playing time for others in the secondary, including
“We’ll miss Antoine Bethea,” free safety
As with any position on the team, it’s important for the backups to show what they can do in the preseason in case they’re called upon to fill in when the games begin to count.
“Like you saw with Antoine, guys that are playing in the preseason are one play away from being our starter,” Reid said. “We have to take advantage of practice and get better.”
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