SANTA CLARA – Here are selected quotes from Antoine Bethea’s Friday morning press conference in the 49ers’ auditorium.
Q: Patrick Willis is gone, Justin Smith is gone, Ray McDonald is gone, but NaVorro Bowman might be back. How different is the defensive front going to look to you?
BETHEA: Of course it’s going to be different, you just named three great players, possible Hall of Famers. So of course it’s a loss. But then again, NaVorro is coming back. I haven’t played with him personally but just being a fan of the game and seeing how he played the game, I’d love to see him in front of me. And then the young guys up front that are going to step in. Getting Glenn (Dorsey) back. Ian (Williams), (Tony) Jerod-Eddie – we have some guys who are capable of doing a hell of a job and holding up the front. I’m just excited to see those guys out there.
Q: There has been a lot written about Colin Kaepernick, him adjusting his stance and getting the ball out quicker. Did you see that in spring? Was there less telegraphing for you about where the ball is going?
BETHEA: Yeah, that was something that stuck out to me. During OTAs I could tell he worked on his craft, and I know it’s going to help the team out. He’s going to get better and do whatever he needs to do to lead this team. Without him, we’re not going to go far. He’s our leader. I’ve seen him progress – I’m not even going to say ‘progressed’ – he just switched some things up that he thought he had to improve on, and that’s what he did.
Q: Something that stood out, you’re talking about a quicker release?
BETHEA: Not even that. Just not telegraphing where he’s going. That’s a key thing for a quarterback. He did a great of that during OTAs.
Q: When you’re back there and looking at the quarterback, are you looking at his eyes, his feet, his hips or…?
BETHEA: Of course you want to get a jump on his eyes, but the good quarterbacks, they’ll look directly at me. You really can’t always tell where they’re going to go. Their job is to look at me to keep in my position so I can’t get a bead on the ball. You kind of look at the shoulders. Eventually they have to get to where they’re going. As a safety, I’ve got to get a great job on them. But sometimes you have some quarterbacks who just stare down their receivers. They’ll just cut one half of the field off which just makes it easier for the defense.
Q: The way Kaepernick throws, his mechanics, do they look dramatically different to you?
BETHEA: It’s subtle. Colin is a great quarterback. Everybody, even myself, I do things each year to better myself, whether it’s getting lower in my backpedal, working on my first step coming out the break – there are subtle things as a pro, you’re going to look at yourself and critique your game. You want to better yourself. That’s what he did. It wasn’t any drastic change to make him this different type of quarterback. He just was improving his game, which all great players do.