SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Strong safety Antoine Bethea's season ended in Thursday night's loss to the Seattle Seahawks after suffering a shoulder injury in the first half. Bethea was placed on injured reserve Friday, giving the 49ers an roster spot for receiver Jerome Simpson, who spent the first six weeks of the season suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Bethea in his first year with the team in 2014 was named the winner of the Bill Walsh Award, given to the team's most valuable player as voted on by coaches. He also was named to the Pro Bowl.
The 10-year veteran's absence likely means an ascension into the starting lineup for rookie second-round pick Jaquiski Tartt, who subbed for Bethea at strong safety during the second half of Thursday night's game before leaving temporarily with a leg contusion, head coach Jim Tomsula said.
Last season, Bethea, 31, finished with 71 and a career-high tying four interceptions. His injury will snap his starts streak at 119 games. The 49ers remaining safeties are Tartt, Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward and L.J. McCray.
Simpson hasn't played since 2013 after getting released during the 2014 season by the Vikings after the team learned of an arrest over the previous summer. His suspension was his third since coming into the league in 2008.
Simpson has 145 catches for 2,004 yards and eight touchdowns in his six-year career.
Simpson's addition gives the 49ers six receivers on the active roster, joining Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and DeAndrew White. Rookie receiver DeAndre Smelter remains on the reserve/non-football injury list while he works his way back from an ACL tear suffered in college.
Through seven games, the 2-5 49ers have the NFL's lowest-ranked offense both in scoring (14.7 points per game) and yardage (295.6 yards per game).
Chris Biderman is the Editor-in-Chief of Niners Digest and covers the 49ers from their headquarters in Santa Clara. Chris has been writing about the team since the spring of 2013. The Ohio State alum received his Journalism degree in 2011 and has been working in sports media since 2008. Chris, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native, is also a contributor to the Associated Press covering sports throughout the Bay Area. You can follow Chris on Twitter here.
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