Donte Whitner, the 49ers' hard-hitting safety, officially has filed a request in his native Ohio to change his last name to "Hitner," and a hearing will be held Nov. 19 in the Cayuhoga County Probate Court.

If his new name is granted by Judge Laura J. Gallagher and then recognized by the NFL, the earliest game he could wear "Hitner" on the back of his No. 31 jersey would be Nov. 25, when the 49ers visit the Washington Redskins.

That means at least another five games as "Whitner" for the 49ers' hard-hitting safety.

Whitner has not allowed a touchdown in coverage during the 49ers' 3-2 start, a marked improvement over last season's eight touchdowns he yielded, according to That steady coverage, with his fine-drawing hits, have raised Whitner's status.