The 49ers’ strong safety learned Tuesday he was being fined $21,000 for his hit on St. Louis Rams’ wide receiver Chris Givens in the end zone with just under six minutes to play in Thursday’s 35-11 49ers victory.
Whitner said he would appeal the penalty and has made up T-shirts with #LegalHitner on the front that he will sell to drum up support. He’s even suggested he might remove the W from his last name.
“In my mind that hit was legal,” Whitner said. “I lowered my shoulder and went for the midsection, where the ball was.”
Whitner appeared to turn his shoulder into Givens in a successful attempt to knock the ball loose. He was called for unnecessary roughness when he appeared to make contact with Givens’ helmet.
“I’m not happy with it,” Whitner said. “The intent is not there. Maybe we should all put flags on and pull them off. Maybe the fans will like that.”
The Rams scored on the next play.
“The game is changing,” Whitner said. “If the coaching staff thinks it was a legal hit, there’s nothing I can do except appeal it. The guy who was hit said it was a legal hit. I don’t know what else I can do.”
Whitner faced a similar situation against the Indianapolis Colts. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after hitting Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw with what seemed to be the crown of his helmet.
Replays showed that Whitner hit Bradshaw with his shoulder, so the penalty was rescinded and no further action was taken. It’s a different story this time around.
“It seems like on any big hit, they make the call on what the hit looks like,” Whitner said. “I don’t duck my helmet. I could have ran through the guy. Let’s get instant replay, and get these things reversed on the field.”
Whitner, who said he was fined during his rookie season with the Buffalo Bills in 2006, wants to get the word out regarding what he considers improper assessment of the new rule protecting defenseless wide receivers. He said he’s produced about 125 T-shirts and will soon open for business.
The former first-round draft pick intercepted a Sam Bradford pass in the end zone late in the second quarter and finished with three tackles, one for a loss, and two passes defended. Whitner had one of his better games against the Rams, with one interception and two passes defended.
49ers vs. Texans
WHEN: Sunday, 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Candlestick Park
TV: NBC (KNTV, Ch. 11)
RADIO: KNBR (680 AM)