San Francisco 49ers: 7 Players on the Hot Seat This Offseason
Safety Antoine Bethea
Perhaps it’s a little harsh to label Bethea as being on the hot seat, but when you analyze the roster going into 2016, he really is.
Bethea was playing below-average up to his season-ending torn pectoral muscle injury in Week 7. Per Pro Football Focus, he was ranked 73rd out of 87 qualified safeties with a plus-60.2 grade (from a zero to 100 point scale). His replacement, rookie Jaquiski Tartt, despite some issues, has a plus-54.9 grade with similar numbers in run and pass coverage.
The two factors that make Bethea on the hot seat are his age (he will be 32 in July) and his 2016 cap figure of $6,250,000. It is hard to see the 49ers retaining Bethea at this cap number, when they have a ready-made replacement in Tartt who has just a $1,144,776 cap hit.
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Letting Bethea go would put a huge void in experience in the 49ers secondary, so this move would certainly be with risk. It is difficult to know how he will recover from his serious injury, and whether he can continue to play at a high enough level. However, it is possible that Bethea re-structures his contract to lower his 2016 cap number.
Once again, the 49ers could definitely use the $5 million in cap savings to address their laundry-list of needs. But they could decide that losing Bethea’s experience is too big a loss to overcome. That would make sense. They can save money elsewhere on the roster if they so desire.
Next: Rams vs. 49ers: Why Week 17 Matters for San Francisco
These seven 49ers are currently on the hot seat, and the bulk of them should be released to give other players a chance. They have all had a chance to succeed with the organization, and for various reasons have failed to do so (excluding Bethea, Dawson, and 2012-13 version of Kaepernick).
The 49ers have a new opportunity in 2016. The 49ers front office need to take advantage of this opportunity.
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, spotrac.com, Overthecap.com, 49ers.com and ESPN.com unless otherwise indicated.