Donte Whitner proved to be one of the leaders of the 49ers defense in 2012, earning the first Pro Bowl bid of his career alongside eight other of his teammates. Ultimately, Whitner and the 49ers fell short of the ultimate goal with a tough 34-31 loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII. Before he left the Bay Area for some offseason relaxation, Whitner spoke to 49ers.com about the promising future of the franchise and what he plans to do with his free time.
I would put everything on the line for my teammates. I love these guys like brothers. I wish we could have brought this ring back, but it just wasn't our time yet.
My mind looks forward to the next step because I heard somebody say it earlier – we didn't lose, we just haven't won yet. We have a young nucleus in this locker room full of hungry guys that want to be successful and that's where it starts, first and foremost. When you have the will to go out there and prepare, and have the will to train to win, everything else will come easier. We have that in this locker room and I truly believe that when we come back for next year, we'll be a lot better from this.
Last year, losing the NFC Championship, it was tough on us. But to come back and really regroup and get back to the Super Bowl, five yards from a world championship, I think next year we'll come back a lot better. We'll come back better from the start of the season, all the way through. Our expectations and our goals should be very, very high when we step on this football field again. I believe we'll do everything we expect to do next year.
With Colin Kaepernick, we know we have one of those franchise quarterbacks everyone looks for. We know we have a guy that is tremendously athletic, that has a cannon of an arm, that's going to do everything to make sure that we get back to a Super Bowl level. I'm just proud of him. I see him come in here every morning at 6:30 working out. I've seen him go through the grind of a full season, where in the first half he wasn't playing but he was still doing the same thing, and the second half where he really had to hone in and focus to go out there and make plays for us to win the game.
We know what we have in him. We know what we have in our offense. We know what we have in the defense. The key is going to be keeping everybody together and knowing that we don't need anything from outside of this organization because we have everything we need here. If we keep everybody together, we get everybody back and we stay healthy, we'll make another run at it. We're experienced now that we've played in a lot of big games and played in the Super Bowl. There's nothing we haven't seen. If we keep everybody together, it will be our time. That's how I truly feel.
I went to Colombia last year and I'm thinking about going back there this offseason. I also want to go to Brazil and I want to go to Dubai; I've got so many places I want to go this offseason. When I get home in the next few days, I'll figure it out. I'll probably take three or four trips out of the country and have some stories to tell when I get back.
Even though I'll be gone, I'll still be keeping the fans updated on Twitter (@DonteWhitner) and Instagram (@DonteHitner31). There's so many people who don't get the opportunity to go travel outside the country or are too scared to go travel outside of the country, so I like to share my experience. I enjoy doing that and it's the best way to connect with fans and have them connect with me.
I really appreciate all of the 49ers Faithful who read this blog and all the people who care about the insight. Next year, hopefully at this time, we'll be speaking about why we're world champions instead of how we lost the football game. There's still more to come.