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Thursday, August 4, 2011
Donte Whitner spurns Bengals for 49ers

By James Walker

Twenty-two years ago, the San Francisco 49ers pulled a rabbit out of their hat at the last minute against the Cincinnati Bengals to win Super Bowl XXIII. On Thursday, the 49ers did a similar feat against Cincinnati with free-agent safety Donte Whitner.

Cincinnati thought it had Whitner, who agreed to terms to a two-year deal with the Bengals Thursday afternoon. It would have been the Bengals' biggest free-agent acquisition to date.

But San Francisco swooped in late with a better contract for three years at $11.5 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Whitner accepted the offer, while leaving the Bengals empty-handed.

It's another strange episode for Cincinnati, which continues to have a poor offseason. It began when franchise quarterback Carson Palmer demanded a trade and threatened to retire in January. Since then, an offensive coordinator has been fired, No. 1 receiver Chad Ochocinco was traded, tailback Cedric Benson and cornerback Adam Jones were arrested, and the team lost its top in-house free agent in Johnathan Joseph.

Add the Whitner's last-minute swindle to the list. Credit the Bengals for making a good push to temporarily convince Whitner to join Cincinnati. But it wasn't enough.