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