By Chris Burke
October 02, 2013

Donte Whitner is third on the Niners with 22 tackles.Donte Whitner is third on the Niners with 22 tackles. (San Jose Mercury News/ MCT /LANDOV)

After he was fined $21,000 by the NFL for his Week 4 collision with St. Louis receiver Chris Givens, 49ers safety Donte Whitner designed a bunch of T-shirts (yours now for just $28!) with the hash tag #LegalHitner on them in protest.

He's apparently ready to take his indirect protest one step further:

Whitner also plans to directly contest his fine, announcing on Tuesday that he would appeal the punishment.

"If the intent isn't there, I don't know what we can do as players," Whiter told the Mercury News. "Maybe we should put flags on and pull. Maybe fans will like that. Maybe not."

Kudos to Whitner for commitment to the bit, especially since (as he pointed out) this is his first fine for an unnecessary roughness penalty.

But two things real quick here: 1. Basically taunting the NFL with this name may not be the smartest move, financially; and 2. "Hitner" is awfully close to "Hitler," isn't it?

Even if Whitner follows through on the name change (the 49ers say he has started the legal process, but nothing is finalized), the NFL will have to give the go-ahead on the switch regarding Whitner's jersey -- you might recall the hubbub created when Chad Johnson legally changed his name to Ochocinco just before the 2008 season. The NFL did approve that moniker (as one word). The explanation given by league spokesman Greg Aiello at the time: "It's his legal surname."

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