Can the 49ers afford not to re-sign Whitner?

Is it mandatory that the 49ers re-sign Donte Whitner?

If the 49ers let him walk and replace him with a rookie, the defense probably would be vulnerable up the middle for at least the first half of the season because there would be no Whitner and no NaVorro Bowman. The 49ers would have to rely on a rookie strong safety and Michael Wilhoite at inside linebacker.

On the other hand, if the 49ers re-sign Whitner they probably will have to over-pay for him because he had an excellent season in 2013. But he mostly has struggled in coverage during his career.

What should the 49ers do about Whitner?

    1. That seems to be the perception, but then again, according to Pro Football Focus, Whitner was ranked 5th overall among safeties in coverage (behind McCourty, Polamalu, Berry, and Thomas) in 2013 and 7th overall among safeties in coverage (behind Polamula, Wilson, Byrd, Weddle, Chancellor, and Phillips) in 2011. Perhaps he is better in coverage than he gets credit for.

      1. Yes, he is.

        He can struggle against tall receivers due to his height, and he was made to look ordinary in 2012 a couple of times. But he’s got good lateral quickness and agility and reads the play well. I think he’s better in man coverage than Reid is.

        1. Scooter:

          I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that Whitner’s coverage “improved” with the departure of Dashon Goldson.

  1. This is a better offering than your last 5 or so, so thanks for that.

    Whitner is too small to play strong safety and not fast or instinctive enough to play free safety — at least at the price he will probably demand — but he is a leader, and leadership can’t be properly quantified by outsiders. If they pay him, it will be less than the market would pay, but the defense would be intact.

    Moving forward, the Niners need a bigger guy, similar to Reid, to complement Reid and allow the Niners to play with 2 safeties, not 1 SS and 1 FS.

    Is Culliver that guy? Where are the Niners going to find CBs? The CB situation this offseason is far worse than it was last offseason, when it was the only thing Grant was whining about.

  2. If the numbers are reasonable you re-sign him. If they aren’t you walk away. He is definitely not a must to bring back though. He had a decent year but he’s a liability in coverage which means you don’t spend big to keep him.

    1. My thoughts too. I think Reid will make a great leader of this defense one day (i.e., getting everyone lined up like Whitner does), but his 2nd season is asking a lot. Problem is I wouldn’t want to sign a 29 year old SS to a long term deal. Its a physically demanding position and the body will break down at some point. Anything over 3-years is too long in my opinion. If they do sign him to longer you want to make it so the cap penalty for letting him go after 2-3 years isn’t burdensome.

      If they don’t re-sign him they will be in a position of either having to find a replacement in FA or almost having to take a safety in the first round. After Clinton-Dix and Pryor the safeties just aren’t that impressive.

        1. $8.4 million is a lot of money, but if they can afford it…

          The main problem with the franchise tag though is they will be in the same position again next offseason. Which SS would you draft this year that truly inspires confidence as a guy that will be ready to take over in 2015? Pryor is the only one I’d feel confident in. I also like Ward. Bucannon maybe, but from whay I’ve seen of him on film he doesn’t do a good job of flipping his hips in coverage – looks very stiff. Looks the part though.

          I know some people like Dixon or Loston, but I just can’t get excited by either of those guys. I seriously question their ability to hold up in coverage – poor agility.

          1. None of those top 3 are ready to start, so the Tag could make some sense for 2014. I’d think they need Whitner’s experience back there, especially with Bowman out the first half of the season. Tag deadline imminent, isn’t it?

          2. Razor, I like Ward, but not sure about starting him as a rookie.

            My main concern with Ward is I read somewhere he can rub teammates the wrong way. Personality concern.

        2. If they’re willing to spend $9M this year on a safety, it should be Byrd, and when the Cap skyrockets over the next few years, the team can regain some balance on the longterm Byrd deal. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

      1. Bucannon in the second round, and others like Ward, Dixon, Loston, all could be day one starters in my opinion….

          1. When you look at Bucannon, what do you see? I see a bigger version of Whitner who may not be as fast. Ward and Bucannon round out Mayocks top 5….

          2. I see a guy that is good playing deep and rushing up to attack the ball, with decent but not great range. However, poor at changing direction and sticking with a receiver in coverage. Terrible tackler. He’s more Reid than Whitner, but Reid is better. 49ers need a guy that can cover some like Whitner (and yes, for all the stick he gets he is ok in coverage), so Ward would be my pick.

          3. I think if you want to make sure you get Ward, the 2nd round. Probably a little overdrafted there, but not many good safeties to choose from this year.

            Midwest, what about Dixon do you like? It really is interesting all the different opinions on the safety class this year – one person’s darling is another’s donkey. I think that just goes to show how the class overall has some warts.

          4. The top 2 Safeties are definitely on a different tier, but the depth is pretty good IMO. I also don’t see Whitner as a must have player. Too many holes in his game, especially in coverage.

          5. Rocket, the way I look at it is if Shawn Williams was in this draft he would be rated similar to (if not ahead of) guys like Bucannon and Dixon. He was a 3rd rounder last year. After Clinton-Dix and Pryor, those are the next guys with Ward. Not a good safety class.

          6. It’s not so much that I like him, but more to the point of me thinking that Dixon is the likeliest of the incoming SS class to be able to start on Opening Day Scooter.

          7. Weak indeed ,Ward is my choice. He may be overrated but the way this looks to play out we would probably have to get him in the first. Followed by K .Fuller CB in the second ,wouldn’t be a bad start imo.

    2. Jack

      I’m with you on that….Whitner is the defensive QB, and every receiver ‘hears footsteps’ when Donte is around

    3. I disagree. Last year’s offense was the weak link when it mattered, not the defense. The defense will be weakened without Whitner, but it will still be strong enough to get the job done. On the other hand, the offense didn’t get the job done last year, it needs to improve instead of regress, and without Boldin, I don’t see how we would overcome Seattle’s defense this year, especially with Browner back. You need a clutch, reliable wide receiver, and, despite Harbaugh’s praise for Crabtree’s hands, Boldin has the most reliable hands on the team and is one of the few on the team that can make a contested catch. Moreover, Crabtree will be neutralized by Sherman, Patton has promise but is not ripe yet, Davis has trouble performing against Seattle and usually disappears after getting hit by Chancellor, and who knows what kind of performance we’ll get out of a rookie wide receiver from the draft. No, Boldin was the team’s MVP last year for a reason; individually he performed well and he makes everyone better around him by lifting pressure off of the other wide receivers.

  3. The team should offer him what they think hes worth. If he wants more then tell him good luck in free agency & let someone else overpay. Did we not learn from the Goldson issue last year? Let him go & Let Pat make the defensive calls. If he doesnt find the contract he wants in free agency he will be back at our price. If someone else wants to overpay for a short hard hitting safety who cant cover.. Then good luck to them with that. Im amazed that some of you think the defense will fall off a cliff without Whitner.

  4. Baalke has his valuation chart, so a lot depends on the market. I’d advocate a strong push to retain Whitner and to grab a DS in the draft. Uh, that’s Defensive Safety; we may have had enough of the other DS.

    1. No way. Dude is a headcase. He’s exactly what this offense needs, but not with that cap number & personality.

    2. Provocative. It’s hard to know how to take this stuff, though nothing wrong with Jack sharing it. Is the likelihood of a trade really emerging? Or is it just emerging in the blogosphere because a couple of people are speculating? Maybe it’s true ‘insider’ info leaking out, maybe not. Not criticizing, just skeptical of everything.

  5. I love Donte Whitner, he has been a great asset to the Niners but I worry about his age and more importantly the fact that the officials seem hell bent on flagging him for every hit he makes, especially the ones the replays clearly show are clean and legal. I don’t hold him responsible for those but I’m not sure that he’ll ever be allowed to play his style of game in this league anymore, and for that reason I don’t think the Niners should break the bank to try to keep him here.
    I would love to see the Niners trade up and (spend some of those 13 later round picks that would end up not making the team anyway) and get a shut down corner like Justin Gilbert and a solid safety like Sunseri, Lawson or Dixon to replace Whitner.

  6. Help me out here.
    Did this person actually consider altering his last name…
    turning Whitner into Hitner…???

    Seriously?
    Find a replacement with both feet in the real world.
    One Hollywood is enough for the West Coast.
    If he lacks for something to help him focus, then
    remind him about that trophy… what is it called?
    The Lombardi trophy… Bring home one of those and
    you can call yourself whatever you want, fella.

  7. My only real concern with letting Whitner walk is the potential leadership void. With Brown most likely gone and Rogers a candidate to be cut, I’d worry about the cohesiveness in the secondary. Reid’s got a bright future, and Brock and Culliver may be a great tandem next year, but Cully’s still an unknown, Brock only has half a year as a starter, and Reid will just be in his second season.

    Not a lot of experience there.

    1. I remember reading that a poll at the combine showed that at least 17 QB coaches like Carr over Manziel. Then again I’m not really surprised. Carr is more of a develop for your system prospect while Manziel is a build your system around him prospect.

    2. Sometimes you might be pushing the
      Iimits with your algebraic equations. I submit this is another one. Definitely not sold on Carr, but……..?.

    3. Carr is way too similar to his brother in the way he plays and the system he comes from. Manzel I like but don’t trust, I doubt he could do much more than pryor in that offense. They need to really build a strong core of guys(o-line, d-line, etc) before they think about drafting a QB….unless Bridgewaters or Bortles falls I would hold off on a QB, at least in the 1st round….. but if they really want Carr he would likely fall to them in the 2nd

  8. Without Whitner the 49ers would have three “need” draft positions (assuming a quiet free agency). Signing Whitner would provide draft flexibility. They could use high picks on corners, receivers or BPAs. Grab the raw project safety later.

  9. One under the radar safety in the draft is Shamiel Gary from Oklahoma State. In watching film of Justin Gilbert, Gary caught my eye. I just finished watching his film from the TCU and Mississippi State games, and he looked very good.

    He fits the criteria of what the 49ers need at SS for mine. Good size, very good acceleration and lateral movement, really closes on the ball fast to break up the pass. Sticky in man coverage. Can also deliver a good hit, with decent tackling form. To be perfectly honest his film impressed me more than Bucannon, Dixon or Loston. I recommend checking him out.

      1. I like taking flyers on small school prospects in the later rounds, and Furr may be worth a flyer. My thoughts are he is clearly a big hitter. But that is all you can tell from those highlights. Its easy to be impressed by a highlights package. Until I see film of every snap of his during a game I’m not going to get too excited.

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