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Antoine Bethea Comfortable at Both Safety Spots

Antoine Bethea comes to the 49ers with an impressive track record of durability and production.

He can also play both safety positions if needed.

"I don't call myself a strong safety," Bethea told "I don't call myself a free safety. I can play both."

San Francisco could use Bethea in a variety of ways alongside of Pro Bowl free safety Eric Reid.

"I hope we can interchange," Bethea said. "Just my personal experience, interchangeable is the best, rather than just have one safety in the box every time or one single-high safety every time."


Bethea started all 16 games in each of his last six seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. He racked up 806 tackles in eight seasons, including 110 in 2013. Besides being a sure tackler, Bethea was not penalized this past season, just like Reid. Bethea also recorded a pair of interceptions for an AFC South division-winning Colts team.

In San Francisco, Bethea said he is eager to learn his new role in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's scheme. But if it's anything like his previous job in Indianapolis, Bethea said he is confident he has the tools to play all over the field.

"I'm pretty sure it'll be fun playing alongside Eric Reid," Bethea said.

The new safety has already started brushing up his knowledge on his new teammates. And as much as Bethea's looking forward to working with a promising safety in Reid, the newest member of the 49ers is also paying attention to the team's respected defensive front and pass-rushers in particular.

"That's my best friend," Bethea said. "Coverage and rush, they coincide with each other. So if we have good coverage on the back end, it gives our rush more time to get there.

"Once the front gets to the quarterback before he releases the ball, that's when we get to have some fun. That's when we get to have some parties in the end zone."

For now, Bethea's only celebration comes from a signature on a fresh contract with a storied football franchise.

In order to celebrate on the field, Bethea is going to focus on what helped him reach this point of his career.


"Like anybody who goes to work every day, that's what puts food on the table," Bethea said of his hard-working mentality. "At the end of the day, I have a passion for this game. I approach this like a pro's pro, like how a man is supposed to do it."

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