"I sent it to my lawyer and he filed it for me in Ohio," Whitner told 49ers.com on Wednesday.
The Pro Bowl safety joins a few other recent athletes to go the name change route. Former wide receiver Chad Johnson became Chad Ochocinco before returning to Chad Johnson. The NBA’s Ron Artest has been Metta World Peace for a few years.
Whitner let everyone know about the change on his twitter account, which currently still lists his full name of @DonteWhitner, when early on Wednesday he tweeted the following:
“It's official...The W is being removed from my last name from Whitner to Hitner...GM”
He apparently got final permission to change the name from his mother, who previously was against the name change.
"I'm forever going to be her son and her little boy, so I have to listen to what she says," Whitner reportedly said. "After all of these hits and people talking about it, I asked her again three nights ago. She said, 'I don't have a problem with it, go ahead.' So I went ahead and did it yesterday."
Whitner, who is in his eighth NFL season, was fined $21,000 by the league for his Week 4 hit on St. Louis Rams receiver Chris Givens. He’s in his third year with the 49ers after spending the first five years of his career with the Buffalo Bills.