49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

March 12, 2014
Clean hitter: Antoine Bethea adjusted to new rules


Antoine Bethea came clean today during a radio interview with KNBR. After he was signed Tuesday, a number of reporters noted that he played 99 percent of the Colts' defensive snaps last season but finished without a single penalty.

Well, that's not exactly true, Bethea said. The new 49ers safety said he was penalized once - during his team's divisional playoff loss to the Patriots. (A check of the official game book, however, shows no such penalty and he's not listed as having any penalties on the NFL's official stat site.)

Whether it's one penalty or no penalties, it's still a remarkable achievement in a league that has become very sensitive about big hits on pass catchers and ball carriers. The man Bethea is replacing, Donte Whitner, struggled to adjust to the new rules throughout the 2013 season. He had six personal-foul type penalties (including four unnecessary roughness calls) in the regular season and one more in the championship game against the Seahawks.

Bethea agreed that adjusting to those rules isn't easy.

"It's most definitely tough - don't get me wrong," he said. "I most definitely understand the argument that DBs have with the rules. But at the end of the day, they are the new rules and we all understand why they install the rules. But you've got to go go with the flow, and if they change it you've got to do your best to change as well."

Bethea's penalty count
2013: 0
2012: 2, 25 yards
2011: 3, 24 yards
2010: 1, 15 yards
2009: 1, 15 yards
2008: 2, 10 yards
2007: 3, 34 yards
2006: 1, 2 yards

Bethea said he had dinner Tuesday night with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He also said that winning a Super Bowl, which he did with the Colts his rookie year, was a big reason he signed with the 49ers. "Of course, sitting here, I wish I had two Super Bowl rings instead of one," he said. "It's one reason I'm here in San Fran. A great opportunity to get another ring. That's what I'm here to do."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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