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Niners release veteran safety Antoine Bethea

The 49ers continued their spring cleaning on Tuesday.

Hours after San Francisco officially cut wideout Torrey Smith, the team announced it is also releasing safety Antoine Bethea. Per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Bethea would have had a $7 million cap hit in 2017.

"Antoine is a true professional in every sense and I have a great deal of respect for the way he has gone about his business throughout his career," said 49ers general manager John Lynch in a media release. "We would like to thank him for the positive impact he has had on this team both as a player and as a leader, on and off the field. We wish Antoine, and his family, great success in the future."

Bethea spent three seasons in the Bay Area after signing a four-year deal in the 2014 offseason. His first eight years in the league were with the Colts. The 32-year-old veteran was the 49ers' leading tackler this past campaign, compiling 110 takedowns in 2016.

The safety lands at the No. 98 spot on Around The NFL's top-101 free agents list.

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