San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner has been heavily criticized for his performance in Super Bowl XLVII, particularly for his role in the several lapses in coverage seen on longer passes thrown by Joe Flacco. As the 49ers were cleaning out their lockers and meeting with the media for the last time, Whitner talked about the 56-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones that gave the Ravens a 21-3 lead late in the second quarter.
In that play, Jones got behind the defense and made a catch. In the process he fell, but got up untouched and outran the secondary to the left side of the end zone. Whitner pinned the blame for that breakdown on the entire defense, Chris Culliver in particular.
“Just caught up, I don’t know. Chris was man-to-man, that was his guy, and Jones just got behind him. The guy’s an extremely talented guy, the guy who caught the football, extremely fast. (Culliver will) be better next year. He’ll be better covering the outside next year, and hopefully we don’t give up those type of plays. It’s the Super Bowl. Coverage goes with rush, and on that play I don’t know if we had the best rush. We definitely didn’t have the best coverage. Joe Flacco was able to step up, throw it deep, and that’s exactly what we didn’t want all week long. So it’s on everybody. It’s not on Chris. It’s not just on the secondary. It’s not on the linebackers or the defensive line. It’s on everybody, because rush goes with coverage and on that play we didn’t have good coverage or we didn’t have good rush.”
Whitner, who made the Pro Bowl and is generally considered a decent run defender, has had difficulties in coverage all season. Those problems continued in the Super Bowl.
Pro Football Focus gave Donte Whitner a grade of -1.5 for his performance on Sunday, and was dinged mostly for how he performed in coverage as well as a penalty for grabbing the facemask of Ed Dickson (of whom Whitner said before Sunday’s game, “He’s a tight end, he has to come near us.”).