"We take steps every year," Whitner told CSNBayArea.com. "Last year we made it to the NFC Championship Game with no expectations. This year we made it to the Super Bowl and 5 yards from the championship. Next year we gonna win this thing. Nobody cares about second place."
Whitner, a key member of the San Francisco secondary, made his proclamation days after the 49ers nearly overcame a 22-point second-half deficit before enduring a heartbreaking 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
San Francisco drove to the Baltimore 5-yard line with under two minutes remaining with a chance to take the lead, but Colin Kaepernick's pass on fourth down fell incomplete, a play in which coach Jim Harbaugh said holding or interference should've been called.
Coming close has been the norm for the Niners, who suffered a 20-17 loss to the New York Giants in the NFC title game the previous season.
Despite Whitner's prediction, getting back to the Super Bowl is anything but a certainity for the Niners, who feature a young roster. No team has returned to the Super Bowl the next season since the New England Patriots won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.