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Donte Whitner: Niners are 'the team to beat'

Donte Whitner says that the San Francisco 49ers are the team to beat. (Jose Carlos Fajardo, Contra Costa Times) Donte Whitner says the San Francisco 49ers are the team to beat. (Jose Carlos Fajardo, Contra Costa Times)

San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner knows that his team is very good, especially after appearing in the Super Bowl last season.

Of course, the 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens, but that didn't stop Whitner from declaring the Niners the best team in the league.

"We feel like we're not only the team to beat in this conference, but the whole, entire NFL," he said to CBSSports.com. "We have to go out, prove it and continue to work, but that's just the way we feel."

"If anything," he said, "we're motivated by the [Super Bowl] loss and the way that we lost the football game. Going into that football game we were confident we were the best team. But we didn't feel like we played our best football, and we feel we had our opportunity.

"The year before we made it to the conference championship game, and we lost. Last year made it to the Super Bowl, and we lost. So it's like these are stepping stones. This year we look forward to going back."

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Whitner is confident, but history shows that the 49ers won't be as successful this season.

The last team to play in a Super Bowl the season after losing it were the 1993 Buffalo Bills, who lost back-to-back Super Bowls to the Dallas Cowboys.

Only seven of the 46 Super Bowl losers have returned to the Super Bowl the next season, and their record in the do-overs is 2-5.  The only two teams to win were the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 1971 Dallas Cowboys.

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