49ers' Bethea: 'I feel I have good football left in front of me'

49ers' Bethea: 'I feel I have good football left in front of me'

SANTA CLARA – Safety Antoine Bethea signed as a free agent with the 49ers in 2014 to join what he figured would be an annual Super Bowl contender.

In reality, the 49ers’ window was closing. Coach Jim Harbaugh and the organization would part ways after an 8-8 season, and the team’s veteran-heavy roster would soon dismantle in the spring of 2015.

“My whole thing was I wanted to go to a team that was a contender,” Bethea said Thursday on CSN Bay Area’s “49ers Insider Podcast.”

“At that time, I couldn’t say that I could see the changes that were going to happen. But there were some big changes that hit us hard. No excuses. We still have a lot of talent in the locker room now. I just think it’s a situation, this team has to get back to that point where you got to learn how to win.”

More changes are expected at the conclusion of this season, which wraps up on Sunday when the NFC West-champion Seattle Seahawks visit Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers (2-13) could match the fewest wins in franchise history with a loss on Sunday.

“It makes it tough to come to work,” Bethea said. “First, you look in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better to help this team to get back to the glory days?’ Of course, it’s going to be other things that happen in the offseason. But at the end of the day, I don’t have any control over that. All I have control over is what I can do.”

After being limited to just seven games last season due to a torn pectoral, Bethea has appeared in every game this season. Bethea leads the 49ers with 103 tackles, which ranks third among all defensive backs in the NFL.

Bethea, 32, is an 11-year veteran who has one season remaining on the contract he signed with the 49ers after eight seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

“I feel I have good football left in front of me,” said Bethea, who has a degree in criminal justice from Howard University. “But at the end of the day, you have to evaluate everything in life. After this year, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I could be here. Maybe I’m not here.

“Of course, I’ve thought about life after football. I definitely want to walk away from this game healthy. If it ever gets to the point where I’m second-guessing myself or second-guessing my ability, I’ll be fine to hang the cleats up.

Regardless of where he might fit with the 49ers, Bethea said is not ready to step away from his playing career at this point.

“Not in the near future,” he said. “I still feel as though somebody can use my service, whether it’s here with the Niners or wherever it may be. I still feel as though I can play some good ball.”

This was a season that featured the 49ers’ franchise-worst 13-game losing streak and the controversy that centered around Colin Kaepernick’s protest of racial inequality in America in which he took a knee during the national anthem.

Bethea maintains Kaepernick’s protest was never allowed to become a distraction inside the locker room because of the open channels of communication. He said he will remember this season for the protest, which became national news, and the team’s struggles on the field.

“I think what Kap did will be talked about for years to come – an NFL player using his platform for what he wanted to use it for,” Bethea said. “And, also, right now, we’re 2-13. So whatever our record will be, that’ll be talk, as well. I think it’ll be (remembered for) both.”

49ers sign former first-round pick guard


49ers sign former first-round pick guard

The 49ers added some talent in the trenches on Tuesday.

Guard Jonathan Cooper inked a one-year deal, the team announced.

Cooper was originally drafted No. 7 overall by the Cardinals in 2013. After two seasons in Arizona, he spent time with the Patriots, Browns and Cowboys.

Last season, he appeared in 13 games for Dallas.

“Having started 27 games in four NFL seasons, Jonathan brings great experience to the interior of our offensive line. We look forward to him competing for a starting job at guard, while also bringing a veteran presence to our locker room. Jonathan is a welcome addition to our team,” GM John Lynch said in a statement.

Richard Sherman envisions making contributions to 49ers on and off the field

Richard Sherman envisions making contributions to 49ers on and off the field

SANTA CLARA – Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman believes he has a lot of good football ahead of him.

But he knows he is not coming to the 49ers after seven seasons with the rival Seattle Seahawks just for how he fits into defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. The 49ers signed Sherman to a three-year contract on March 10 -- one day after the Seahawks released him.

Sherman, who turns 30 on March 30, views his job description as being a major influence and contributor to the 49ers on and off the field.

“I think it’s probably 50-50,” Sherman said Tuesday in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “Obviously, I’m going to be asked to play at a high level, and that’s what I expect from myself and that’s what I expect to bring to this team. But outside of that, I think I bring an aspect of culture and a winning mentality.”

Sherman is a four-time Pro Bowl performer and three-time first-team All-Pro. He said the commitment to winning is all-consuming. It is a mindset he helps to share with his new teammates.

“It’s about waking up and doing things that will contribute to winning later, whether it’s your diet, your sleep habits, how you treat your teammates, how you converse,” Sherman said. “Do you go out tonight or do you stay in and get some extra studying? What are you doing to help us win the game on Sunday? Just that mentality will help a lot of these people.”

There might be no young player on the 49ers in need of a good role model more than Reuben Foster, who is set to enter his second NFL season. Foster was arrested this offseason for possession of marijuana in Alabama. A month later, he was arrested in Los Gatos for alleged domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said no decision has yet been reached whether to pursue criminal charges against Foster.

Sherman said he has not spoken to Foster but he will be willing to be a mentor to Foster and provide him with support. Sherman said he has heard a lot of great things about Foster.

“If I can help him, I’ll do my best,” Sherman said. “I look forward to meeting him and being a teammate of his, and helping him in any way I can. To think I can change everything he does, I’d be foolish to say I could. But am I going to try my best to help him and put him in positions to be more successful in the future? Yes, I am.”