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Mark Humphrey / The Associated Press

Safety Donte Whitner, shown in January, says his mother didn't like the idea of changing his name to Hitner when he proposed it during the summer, but she's good with it now.

49ers notes: Whitner likes the sound of his new name: Hitner

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 - 6:03 pm

SANTA CLARA – If you want to change your name in Ohio, it will cost you $27.

Donte Whitner discovered that this week when he filed paperwork in his native state to legally drop the "W" from his last name. The 49ers safety wants "Hitner" on his jersey because, after all, that's what he does for a living.

"That's my game," he said Wednesday. "… That's what I do. That's my last name and removing a letter makes it pretty cool."

Whitner said he's been contemplating the change for some time, but two things happened this week that convinced him to make it official.

First, he got the go-ahead from his mother, Deborah Robinson, who initially didn't like the idea when her son broached it this summer.

Second, he said the name change is a protest of sorts against the NFL, which he feels is outlawing the big hits for which he is known. Whitner has been penalized for unnecessary roughness in the last two games.

One of the hits that drew a flag, against Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw, was deemed legal by the NFL. The other one, last Thursday against Rams wideout Chris Givens, landed Whitner a $21,000 fine.

Whitner's most famous play in eight years in the NFL came when he struck Saints running back Pierre Thomas during the 2011 divisional playoffs, knocking Thomas out of the game and causing him to fumble.

"The name change does have something to do with everything that is going on," Whitner said.

Though he might only have to pay the state of Ohio $27, there may be additional costs. The NFL and its merchandise partner, Nike, would require him to purchase all of the jerseys already on the market that have "Whitner" on the back.

Whitner said he's willing to buy them.

"Depending on how many there are," he said. "I haven't really seen a whole lot around Candlestick. I wouldn't think there should be (a lot). Unless somebody's hiding them."

Injuries – Linebacker Patrick Willis and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha practiced on a limited basis Wednesday after missing the game against the Rams.

After a long rest, the only two players on the active roster that sat out practice were tackle Anthony Davis (shoulder) and wide receiver Quinton Patton (foot). Patton broke a bone in his foot Thursday and will miss Sunday's game against the Texans.

Willis, who injured his groin Sept. 22 against Indianapolis, said he's still sore and fighting through the pain. But he should be listed as questionable Friday and be a game-time decision Sunday.

Asomugha, dealing with a knee injury, is in the running with Tramaine Brock for the No. 3 cornerback job.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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