- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Donte Whitner is getting most of his publicity this season because of his pending name change to "Hitner."
The Bay Area News Group reports the earliest he will play a game as Hitner is Nov. 25.
However, his defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Whitner is more than just a player planning a name change.
“He’s played even better than he had last year when he made the Pro Bowl,” Fangio said of Whitner. “He’s still tackling very well. He’s running our operation back there, as you alluded to, with a rookie. He’s just playing with a lot more confidence. And he’s playing a little bit faster. Again, third year in the system. I don’t know. It’s hard to say the guy’s playing better when he had a Pro Bowl season last year. But, he is playing better. And he’s really enjoying playing. He’s having a lot of fun and he’s kind of become a leader of the secondary, and a leader on the team.”
In other 49ers’ notes:
San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the 49ers had their eyes on quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson for some time. He was claimed off waivers from Minnesota on Wednesday. Bethel-Thompson, who practiced with the 49ers on Thursday, was in San Francisco’s camp in 2011. He is a San Francisco native. “(We were) very impressed when he was here as a young guy coming out,” Roman said. “Liked his demeanor, his release, a lot of things about him. He went and played in a different league, ended up with the Vikings for a while and he’s somebody that we’ve really liked since Day 1. As fate has it, here he is. We have an opportunity to get him and we get him.”