One of the main things I love about Twitter is you hear from players in a somewhat unfiltered manner. Players are able to say what they want and interact with fans. Donte Whitner did just that when he used Twitter to ask fans a simple question, and one that garnered a lot of positive answers:
Y'all want me here next year?— DonteHitner (@DonteWhitner) December 17, 2013
This is an important question, as he will become a free agent at the end of the season. At just 28, locking him up three to four years wouldn't be a bad move if the price is right. Since Whitner's been here, he's progressed each season, and has played Pro Bowl caliber ball this season after making the Pro Bowl last year. While Whitner has always been a good run defending safety with a hard hitting prowess, he has really improved as a pass defender. The 49ers rarely get beat deep down the field, and that isn't just a reflection on the cornerbacks, but the play of the safeties as well. Whitner has 14 passes defended this season, and 2 interceptions.
Another reason to keep Whitner around is the development of Eric Reid, and the chemistry they have together. Reid has a high football I.Q. for a rookie, but it helps when a veteran who knows the scheme is next to you. You can see it each game; they communicate with each other frequently, and there's respect from Reid to Whitner. This also helps Whitner in my opinion. When you're showing another player what to do and helping them learn, it is going reinforce the knowledge he has and keep him sharp.
The 49ers do have other holes to fill at the end of the year, and in 2015 Colin Kaepernick, Mike Iupati, Michael Crabtree, and Aldon Smith are all set to be free agents. This means the 49ers will need to be wise with how they spend their money this off-season. They can't break the bank for Whitner. The 49ers lost Dashon Goldson this year because he wasn't willing to take a hometown discount to stay on a championship-caliber team, will Whitner follow suit? I believe he is more inclined to take a bit of a pay cut to stick around and a great chance at winning some rings but we'll see. I expect the 49ers to really want him back, but at the same time being strict with how big of a contract they're willing to give him.
Donte Whitner is one of my favorite 49ers on a team full of many favorites from which to pick. He always answers questions the right way, in a usually badass manner. The guy is just tough, on and off the field. Walking the walk, talking the talk, and changing his name to Hitner to prove a point. He's what a 49ers defensive player is and should be.
Good play gets rewarded with a good contract, hopefully both sides can make a deal they're both happy with. What do you think? Do you want Hitner to stay or should the 49ers find a rookie safety in the draft?