The 49ers remain in the running to retain Donte Whitner, their starting strong safety for the last three seasons, but they are looking at alternatives in case they lose him. One of the players they have called about, according to a league source, is ex-Raiders safety Mike Mitchell, who spent last season with the Panthers.
Behind Carolina's formidable defensive front, Mitchell, 26, had a career high four interceptions to go along with eight pass breakups. Mitchell played free safety while Quintin Mikell played strong safety for the Panthers. But at 6 feet, 210 pounds, Mitchell is big enough to help in run support and finished with more tackles -- 66 - than Mikell last season. He also played strong safety with the Raiders and would make a good interchangeable tandem with like-sized Eric Reid in the 49ers' secondary.
The Browns, Jets and Bears have shown interest in Whitner, 28. There were more reports this morning that Cleveland, Whitner's home town, would make a strong push to add him to its secondary. The 49ers continue to hold out hope that they will retain Whitner.
-- Matt Barrows