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Whitner’s stick on Thomas give Niners early momentum

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A pass interference penalty committed by 49ers safety Donte Whitner against Saints tight end Jimmy Graham made Whitner an early goat in the first NFC division-round game.

Whitner quickly redeemed himself.

With running back Pierre Thomas catching a short pass from Drew Brees deep in San Fran territory and instantly accelerating toward the goal line, Whitner flattened Thomas with a legal helmet-to-helmet hit, forcing Thomas to fumble the ball.  (Thomas had taken a couple of steps with the ball, and he no longer was a “defenseless receiver.”)

Despite some initial confusion as to whether Whitner stopped the forward progress, the ruling was a fumble.

Thomas has joined Graham in the locker room.  Both players possibly have suffered concussions.

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26 Responses to “Whitner’s stick on Thomas give Niners early momentum”
  1. 49erlifer says: Jan 14, 2012 4:51 PM

    4 minutes in already hurt graham and thomas this niner D is the real deal and the saints are learning that right now

  2. nogoodell says: Jan 14, 2012 4:51 PM

    That wasn’t pass interference

  3. brunnerjam says: Jan 14, 2012 4:53 PM

    That was a god-awful penalty call.

  4. redguy12588 says: Jan 14, 2012 4:53 PM

    Somewhere, James Harrison is mad and confused.

  5. glac1 says: Jan 14, 2012 4:53 PM

    I’d rather have more points on the scoreboard at the end then early momentum.

  6. newenglandsports11 says: Jan 14, 2012 4:55 PM

    I’m sure Godell will fine Whitner 60,000 $ for helmet to helmet.

  7. rashardmendenballs says: Jan 14, 2012 4:58 PM

    Great hit by Whitner, but the sad thing is that he will be fined $100,000 because Whitner made contact with Thomas’s helmet. If Thomas wouldn’t have lowered his head, Whitner would have made contact with Thomas’s chest.

    Goddell forgets that this is a very brutal and physical sport and injury’s will occur regardless what precautions you put into place to avoid injury’s.

    It wasn’t long ago that This league was fun to watch. RIP NFL.

  8. apooster says: Jan 14, 2012 4:58 PM

    Watch GODdell fine him for helmet to helmet.

  9. brickwilly says: Jan 14, 2012 4:58 PM

    Why no helmet to helmet penalty ?? Outrageous

  10. donkeykong2011 says: Jan 14, 2012 4:59 PM

    he was knocked out standing up. there is no way he can come back in the game.

  11. drgfri says: Jan 14, 2012 4:59 PM

    Quite a statement w that hit…. 49ers are looking tough

  12. cobrala2 says: Jan 14, 2012 5:01 PM

    Obviously his back was to the ball, but I don’t see enough contact there to throw the flag.

  13. berguli says: Jan 14, 2012 5:04 PM

    i think you need to show in the rules where any helmet to helmet hit is legal…..

  14. clintonportisheadd says: Jan 14, 2012 5:05 PM

    Looked like a helmet to helmet hit too….

  15. fishtank86 says: Jan 14, 2012 5:08 PM

    He laid him out. He had absolutely no hold on that ball the second he was hit.

  16. childressrulz says: Jan 14, 2012 5:11 PM

    I didn’t see the helmet to helmet part but it was an awesome hit. I just wish it would’ve been on Sproles. That guy won’t be ready to play again till superbowl time and the saints won’t make it there so he is done till next year.

  17. norcalnanook says: Jan 14, 2012 5:13 PM

    Could he be fined because he led with his helmet?

  18. akshunj says: Jan 14, 2012 5:13 PM

    Good call DonkeyKong, Thomas was definitely KO’d on that hit. Watch it in slow-mo, the arms go limp, he lands on his face, and never attempts to recover the fumble.

  19. sacram3ntal says: Jan 14, 2012 5:15 PM

    Terrible PI call- who cares if you don’t look for the ball if you don’t interfere with the WR in ANY way??- but a wicked hit.

    Thomas was out cold for a few seconds, I’m sure of it.

    Saints look completely rattled right now.

  20. dlmcc1010 says: Jan 14, 2012 5:21 PM

    Thomas looked like a boxer who just took an uppercut he didnt see coming. Guy was definitely out on his feet. I would really hope common sense would tell the doctors not to chance putting him back out there. He lowered his helmet so there was no way Whitner could have avoided the helmet to helmet contact

  21. coolgato13 says: Jan 14, 2012 5:22 PM

    I understand that by current rules, the helmet to helmet hit on Thomas was legal.
    My question is, with what we know today about head injuries, WHY ARE ANY HELMET TO HELMET HITS ALLOWED????
    Are running backs sub-human?
    The league needs to address this.

  22. sportsinhd says: Jan 14, 2012 5:25 PM

    That was a helmet to helmet right? If that had been James Harrison (or maybe a member of the Ravens), a flag would have been thrown. The boffo broadcasters on FOX didn’t even seem to realize it was helmet to helmet.

    I’m really confused by the NFL right now.

  23. wwwmattcom says: Jan 14, 2012 5:54 PM

    Taking away helmet to helmet hits and not wrapping up is Whitners only game. Cant cover cant tackle and cant get a clue.

  24. contract says: Jan 14, 2012 6:06 PM

    Was it also a legal helmet to helmet hit Roman Harper stuck his helmet right into the side of Alex Smith’s jaw?

  25. tatum064 says: Jan 14, 2012 6:15 PM

    wwwmattcom says:
    Jan 14, 2012 5:54 PM
    Taking away helmet to helmet hits and not wrapping up is Whitners only game. Cant cover cant tackle and cant get a clue.
    That entire secondary is playing well, including Whitner.

  26. randygnyc says: Jan 14, 2012 6:30 PM

    Shocked that no one during the broadcast recognized that Thomas was knocked out cold. Watch his right arm go stiff as he lands on the grass. I noticed it right away.

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