49ers’ Whitner: Big hits should be reviewable


SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Don’t get Donte Whitner wrong; he’s glad he hasn’t paid any fine money to the NFL this season.

However, continuing to not get fined for big hits is adding to his overall frustration, and he would like to see the league adopt a plan to review such plays.

Whitner They do in college. Why not in the National Football League? Let’s get it right. … Just because it’s a powerful hit doesn’t mean it’s an illegal hit.”

— 49ers safety Donte Whitner on reviewing hits

“It shows I shouldn’t be penalized in the first place,” Whitner said Thursday. “It’s hurting our football team.”

Whitner said he was not fined for a play in which he was penalized Monday in the 49ers’ 34-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons. He said it was the fifth time he’s been penalized without a corresponding fine. Whitner was initially fined $21,000 for a hit against St. Louis in Week 4 but said he won his appeal.

His penalty Monday night was critical. It was in the red zone and came on third down. Had he not been penalized, the Falcons would have been forced to attempt a field goal.

Instead, the new life led to a touchdown that gave Atlanta a 7-3 lead. Whitner was asked if he thinks such plays should be reviewable.

“Yes, they should,” he said. “They do in college. Why not in the National Football League? Let’s get it right. … Too many times a play looks bad and the official throws the flag, but it ends up being a clean play. … Just because it’s a powerful hit doesn’t mean it’s an illegal hit.”

Whitner said he will continue to strive to hit cleanly. He said he thinks about being clean as he makes hits.

“Even talking to [defensive backs coach Ed] Donatell and [defensive coordinator Vic Fangio], you have to have a poster boy in the National Football League that can still hit hard and do it the right way and show people how to do it the right way,” Whitner said. “And even if it looks bad, it’s not bad.”

Fangio was asked about the play Monday in his news briefing Thursday. When told Whitner was not fined, he said, “There’s your answer.”

Whitner is still planning to legally change his last name to Hitner in the offseason.

  • Covered AFC West for five seasons for ESPN.com
  • Covered Broncos for Denver Post
  • Also covered Vikings, Packers, Seahawks

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