Whitner told reporters he was fined $21,000 for a jarring fourth-quarter hit on Rams wide receiver Chris Givens that dislodged the ball and prevented a Rams touchdown. Whitner was flagged for unnecessary roughness and the play helped set up St. Louis’ only touchdown in a 35-11 loss to San Francisco.
“I’m not happy with it,” Whitner said on Tuesday, shortly after he opened a letter from the league office to receive the news.
“Still in my heart I feel like it was legal,” Whitner added. “I can’t change the way I play, so we’ll see what happens.”
Whitner has never been fined for unnecessary roughness and was surprised by the dollar amount of his recent fine. Whitner has previously been docked for uniform violations.
The 49ers starting strong safety felt like he struck Givens with proper fundamentals and was shocked to see a penalty flag come out in the lopsided win.
“I was going to the midsection, where the ball is, with my shoulder,” Whitner said. “You could actually see me turn to lay off the head. If I would have run through the guy, then I think I would have actually deserved that.
“I can appeal it and see what they say.”
Whitner is hopeful the fine will be lowered by the NFL.
Whitner has made a career of applying big hits in the open field and wants to continue being a physical force on the back end of San Francisco’s defense. The safety, however, understands that the game of football is “changing.”
“I say that because any big hit nowadays, whether you lead with the crown of your helmet, whether it’s college football, they’re all making that call based on how the hit looks, not on a guy lowering his head and connecting on the crown of his helmet,” Whitner said.
The 49ers safety went on to discuss a possible solution for the unnecessary roughness calls.
“Let’s get some instant replay to be able to overturn them or keep the flag,” he said.
“I know the intent is not there,” Whitner added. “If the intent is not there, I don’t know what we can do as players. Maybe we can put flags on and pull those off. Maybe fans will like that, maybe not.”
Whitner said he hasn’t received any negative feedback on the play from his coaches.
Whitner also mentioned that Givens, the player on the other end of the hit, sought out the 49ers safety after the game to tell him it was a clean play.
“If the guy who got hit thought it was legal,” Whitner said, “then I don’t know what else to do.”
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