On Thursday September 26th, Donte Whitner delivered a huge hit on Chris Givens in the fourth quarter which drew a flag for unnecessary roughness. This led to the only Rams touchdown of the game in a 49ers win, 35-11. On the replay, it looked as though Whitner led with his shoulder and not with the crown of his helmet but in a league that is catered to offense, the referee threw the flag.
Whitner thought all he would get was the flag but the NFL fined Whitner $21,000 for the hit on Givens. Whitner, since then, has appealed the fine. Whitner is frustrated with the league because he feels he has done nothing wrong and was a clean hit on Givens. In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, he voiced his displeasure by saying, “I think I’m just supposed to let them score a touchdown now. I think that’s what the National Football League wants, but I’m not going to give them that.”
This prompted Whitner to do something only Chad Johnson has done in the NFL: change his name. Whitner filed papers to legally change his last name to “Hitner”. This name definitely describes Whitner nature as a football player but it might make him more susceptible to fines with a name like “Hitner”. Referees may be compelled to pay close attention to Whitner and more likely to call penalties against the 49ers veteran safety.
This could cause trouble for the 49ers because everyone knows that Whitner is a hard hitter. If he keeps hitting guys, even if they are legal hits, he is going to continue to get fined and possibly suspended. It would be a major blow to this team if Whitner got suspended, who already without Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis, because the 49ers do not have viable replacement for Whitner.
Whitner is having a decent year and coming off his best game of the season. He had one interception and should have had two as well as a huge hit on Givens. If Whitner continues to play this and can avoid personal foul penalties, Whitner will be a key factor in the 49ers quest for six.
Follow me on Twitter: Michael Shultz @shultzreport