By Tim Polzer
October 02, 2013

Donte Whitner says that the San Francisco 49ers are the team to beat. (Jose Carlos Fajardo, Contra Costa Times) Donte Whitner is changing his name to "Hitner". (Jose Carlos Fajardo, Contra Costa Times)

Donte Whitner, the 49ers Pro Bowl safety, plans to legally change his name to "Hitner."

The 49ers' website reports Whitner is serious about the change that he claims is not about selling "Legal Hitner" T-shirts.

"I sent it to my lawyer and he filed it for me in Ohio," Whitner said.

The 49ers safety doesn't think his name change will be as big an adjustment as other professional athletes who went through the process including Chad Ochocinco and Metta World Peace.

"I think one word is not as big as 10 words," Whitner said. "It's my last name and removing a letter makes it pretty cool."

Whitner believes his fans will support the change:

"If you ask the fans around San Francisco, the Bay Area, or anyone that's a fan of me, they call me Donte Hitner any way," he said. "Everything we do is for the fans right? It's all entertainment. We all understand that. It's entertainment, but that's what I do, it's my game. Along with some things that happened recently, that's why I went with it."

Whitner said he had considered the name change in the offseason but that his mother wouldn't go for it. She has since changed her mind.

From ESPN:

"I'm forever going to be her son and her little boy, so I have to listen to what she says," Whitner said. "After all of these hits and people talking about it, I asked her again three nights ago. She said, 'I don't have a problem with it, go ahead.' So I went ahead and did it yesterday."

Whitner told reporters he'd like to get the name changed on his uniform by Sunday's game but he wasn't sure it could be done.

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Changing his name could involve more than legal fees. Whitner could be forced to buy up all unsold NFL-licensed jerseys and merchandise bearing his old name.

From ESPN:

The name change will not be cheap for Whitner. A league official told ESPN's Darren Rovell that NFL rules stipulate that if a player changes his name during an NFL season, he is required to purchase all the remaining inventory of merchandise with the old name that hasn't been sold.

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