Donte Whitner said he would appeal the $21,000 fine he received today for a hit he delivered against Rams receiver Chris Givens late in Thursday's game. Whitner was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play, and he said Givens told him afterward he thought it was a clean hit.
"If the guy that was hit thought it was legal, then I don't know what else to do," Whitner said.
According to the rule book, the penalty was justified. Because he was descending with the ball, Givens could not protect himself and was considered, under NFL rules, a "defenseless player." In that instance, hits above his shoulder are not permitted.
Whitner drove his shoulder into Givens' facemask, dislodging the ball and causing an incompletion. But Whitner noted he was aiming much lower and that Givens dropped into his strike zone. He said his intent was not an above-the-shoulder-pads hit.
"I was going for the midsection, where the ball is, with my shoulder," he said. "You can actually see me turn and lay off the hit. If I actually would have ran through the guy, then I think I would deserve what I got. But I'll appeal it and see what they say."
Whitner, who is in his eighth NFL season, said he has never been fined for unnecessary roughness and was surprised by the steep fine. "You see $21,000 and you would think I knocked the guy out," he said. He was not fined for a similar hit last Sunday on Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw that also drew an unnecessary roughness penalty.
Whitner has been vocal about the changing nature of the NFL as it pertains to big hits, and he's started a line of t-shirts -- they sell for $28 each -- called #legalhitner. Whitner tweeted that he was even contemplating dropping the "W" in his last name.
The 49ers safety was celebrated for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Saints running back Pierre Thomas in the 2011 playoffs that caused a fumble and knocked Thomas from the contest. On Tuesday he said, "the game is changing."
"I don't know what we can do as players - just put flags on and pull those off," Whitner said. "Maybe fans will like that. Maybe not."
For more on the topic, read, Unclear rules on hard hits leave defenders dazed and confused
Odds & Ends
* Joe Staley hopped a few times on his left foot today to demonstrate that his ankle was perfectly fine. Staley received a scare - and made an infamous scream - after being bent over backward in a pile of players late in the Rams game. Staley could be heard screaming on television, and Rams coach Jeff Fisher was so concerned that he summoned for the cart to take Staley into the locker room.
Staley, however, said he was perfectly fine. Asked if the sparse St. Louis crowd at the end of a blowout loss made his yelling more audible, Staley laughed. "It wouldn't have been drowned out (by a full crowd)," he said. "You could have heard that scream in Seattle."
* Tight end Vernon Davis (hamstring) said he wasn't at 100 percent on Thursday and probably would not be fully recovered for another two weeks or so.
-- Matt Barrows