49ers busy on all fronts during first day of free agency


The San Francisco 49ers addressed their offense, defense and special teams during an eventful first day of free agency, one that left them without one of their star defensive backs from 2013.

Shortly after the free agency period began at 1 p.m. (Pacific) Tuesday, the 49ers signed Colts safety Antoine Bethea as a replacement for Donte Whitner, who signed a four-year deal worth a reported $28 million with the Cleveland Browns.

Bethea’s contract is good for four years and $26 million, according to CBS Sports’ Josh Katzowitz. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Bethea, who turns 30 in July, was a cornerstone for the Colts defensive backfield the past eight seasons, earning Pro Bowl invites in 2007 and 2009. Bethea is a year old than Whitner and gives the young 49ers secondary a veteran presence.

The 49ers landed an even bigger name Tuesday, albeit at backup quarterback. Blaine Gabbert, the disappointing 10th overall draft pick by the Jaguars in the 2011, was traded from Jacksonville to San Francisco in exchange for a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft.

Although the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Gabbert was largely unsuccessful with Jacksonville — 5-22 in three seasons, 22 touchdowns, 24 interceptions — the 49ers are getting him at a bargain price.

The 49ers also re-signed kicker Phil Dawson, who was 32 for 36 on field goals in 2013. That included a streak of 27 made attempts.


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