SANTA CLARA -- As Donte Whitner prepares for the 49ers' rematch Sunday with the St. Louis Rams, he can't help but think about controversial penalties.

He got one last time against the Rams, a touchdown-saving hit that drew a $21,000 fine. Whitner claimed Wednesday he won his appeal, never had that money withdrawn from his paycheck and now is crusading for a replay process that could overturn penalties.

"We really need to get something done about that -- replay, something -- so it doesn't cost us football games," Whitner said.

One such game, at least in Whitner's and many 49ers' fans minds: Their 23-20 loss at New Orleans on Nov. 17, when Ahmad Brooks' controversial hit that nullified his fumble-forcing sack on the Saints' Drew Brees with some three minutes remaining.

San Francisco 49ers’ Donte Whitner (31) speaks to the media at their practice facility in Santa Clara, Calif. on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. (Nhat V.
San Francisco 49ers' Donte Whitner (31) speaks to the media at their practice facility in Santa Clara, Calif. on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Brooks also championed Whitner's plea for expanded use of replay.

"When defensive penalties happen, they should review them," Brooks said. "It's a call that goes up in the air."

Added Whitner: "If we do all those things right and get penalized for doing those things right, then we're just being counterproductive. So we need to do something about that as far as NFL, as far as players, because it's going to cost somebody a big game."

Brooks drew a $15,750 fine for that hit, and he appealed it in a phone call Tuesday with the league's Matt Birk, who also heard Whitner's appeal.

Brooks contended he did not hit Brees in the neck, adding: "I did mention I was going against somebody who's 6-foot-7 (right tackle Zach Streif), turned the corner and had to adjust to a 6-foot quarterback, and that's difficult."

Added Whitner: "He did everything he's supposed to do. It's not his fault that Drew Brees is a little guy and can't really take a hit. That's really what won the football game for them. We feel like it cost us the game."

Asked to clarify what he meant about Brees, Whitner said he wasn't questioning the quarterback's toughness but rather his stature against a bigger opponent.

San Francisco 49ers’ Tarell Brown (25) celebrates after he recovered a ball that San Francisco 49ers’ Donte Whitner (31) stripped away from
San Francisco 49ers' Tarell Brown (25) celebrates after he recovered a ball that San Francisco 49ers' Donte Whitner (31) stripped away from Houston Texans' Ben Tate (44) in the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

"He can't take a hit," Whitner repeated. "Drew Brees and those guys are celebrating. We kind of have a formula against those guys. Hopefully we'll see them again in the playoffs. ... I'm not questioning his toughness, stature. We look at him as being one of the greats. But come and beat us. Come and win a football game. Don't take that one. They didn't earn that football game."

For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.