BOARDMAN, Ohio -- Several 49ers players celebrated Wednesday's news that the NFL's regular officials might be coming back to work, perhaps as soon by Sunday's game at the New York Jets.

"Ed Hochuli's coming back! That's what I saw on Facebook," guard Alex Boone said. "I'm excited."

An agreement in principal between the league and the referees is close, according to ESPN.com.

"If it gets done, it's a great thing," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. "In the last three weeks, there've been mistakes and bad calls. ... We all just want to go out there and have a fair game."

Whitner agreed that the "tipping point" in the NFL's lockout of officials surely came Monday night, when the Seattle Seahawks were awarded a controversial winning touchdown on the final play against the Green Bay Packers.

Whitner said defensive backs have been "getting away with things you don't normally see," such as making contact with receivers beyond the 5-yard boundary. "You know you could get away with a little more," Whitner added. "With those officials coming back, you have to play your 'A' game."

Coach Jim Harbaugh declined to state whether he's had to change his approach with replacement officials. However, Harbaugh has done little to hide his game-day displeasure during the 49ers' 2-1, and his bickering with officials even resulted in him receiving an extra timeout in Sunday's loss at Minnesota.


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Wide receiver Mario Manningham said of the officiating through three games: "We all cee what's going on and we want 'em back."