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Interview: Donte Whitner
The San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl safety talks to The American's Josh Modaberi
Last season was heart breaking for the San Francisco 49ers as the team made it to the showpiece event in New Orleans, Super Bowl XLVII but lost to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31, the first time the Niners had made the big game and not hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Safety Donte Whitener says for himself and the team it will only make them even hungrier to go out and win the Super Bowl this year.
"Losing the Super Bowl last year against Baltimore definitely spurs us on," the 28-year-old said. "We are making steps each year, and we don't have any excuses for last year's loss. We have a young talented football team and the nucleus is still there. All we have to do is go out there and make sure that we're very detailed, to continue to work how we worked to get to where we were last year. Sometimes when you lose a Super Bowl it can be a drop off but we don't want that.
"Now we are going to have to start from day one like every other team in the NFL and work as if we didn't make the Super Bowl last year; work as if we haven't made the play-offs in the last ten years and we'll be right where we want to be."
After coming so close but not clinching his first Super Bowl victory, how has the 2012 Pro Bowler been spending his time during the off-season?
"I did some MMA stuff. I actually work out of Miami, Florida in extreme heat. Every off-season you have to try and find something different. You have to tweak the way you eat, what you eat, when you eat. Sometimes you might have to workout twice a day, sometimes you might have to do some cross-fit, just throw different things in there to take your body to the max. That's what I've been doing and that's what a lot of my team mates have been doing, so hopefully it pays off."
Whitner knows in order for the 49ers to get back to the Super Bowl and to go one step further, they are going to have to come out of the blocks fast.
"You want to go out there and win the first couple of games," he explained. "You want to get out there and get on a roll, get the season going and to have a good flow. We have two tough opponents right off the back, Green Bay and Seattle, two teams that have Super Bowl aspirations as we do, so it's going to be tough. But if you want to be the best you have to go out there and beat the best.
"We have to prove ourselves right off the back. Our goal is to come to Wembley Stadium on October 27 undefeated, it's going to be tough, but with hard work and the guys we have in the team we believe it's possible."
Their International Series trip to Wembley Stadium matches the 49ers with the Jacksonville Jaguars. “This isn't a pre-season or an exhibition game this is a real game and all wins count, especially if you want to go where we want to go and that's back to the Super Bowl and winning it.
"So we can't worry about any of the conditions, we can't worry about travel, we can't worry about anything. We are coming over here to win a football game and that's what we plan on doing."
During the off-season, the San Francisco 49ers picked up British Olympian Lawrence Okoye during the draft and Whitner feels the Brit has a bright future:
"Physically he's big, strong, tough, and we think he's going to be a really good player. We've seen him in LTAs and mini camp like every other player, but you really get a good look at them when the helmet and shoulder pads go on.
"Hopefully he comes out there and he embraces the physical nature of the game and he'll be a really good player so we'll have to wait and see."
And who have been some of the other key acquisitions for the 49ers?
"Anquan Boldin is going to be a really big pick up. He's a really hard nose guy. Any guy that can go out there in the middle, get his jaw broke and a couple of weeks later play, is a guy you want to go to battle with each and every Sunday.
"Nnamdi Asomugha has a really big chip on his shoulder. The last two years he's been a scapegoat up in Philadelphia, so he's getting with a good team, good defence, good front seven. He likes to press man-to-man and I believe he will have another break out year."
"A.J Jenkins was a first round pick last year but he didn't play much. There were some people that were down on him, but during off-season and mini camp workouts he's really been one of our top receivers out there, especially after Michael Crabtree went down, so I think he's going to be a really big pick up.”
Catch our chat with Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams here.
Catch our chat with Steelers guard Ramon Foster here.