We're wading chin-deep through the eternally optimistic portion of the NFL offseason, and the San Francisco 49ers have plenty of reasons to feel good about the team's direction.
Jimmy Garoppolo's ascendancy into the realm of franchise quarterbacks (or at least getting paid like one) after guiding the 49ers to five consecutive wins coupled with general manager John Lynch's notable roster moves have spurred expectations of a by-the-bay revival that goes beyond their new glory days-inspired uniforms.
Jerick McKinnon, the former Minnesota Vikings running back who is part of the new-look 49ers, says those high expectations have permeated across the roster.
"The Super Bowl. That's what the eyes are on," McKinnon said, according to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. "That's the prize. That's the ultimate goal."
McKinnon isn't alone in hoping the team will be playing in Atlanta next February. While training with veteran Navy SEALs of APG as part of coach Kyle Shanahan's offseason program, the team was unified in its expectations.
"The whole team has talked about it," McKinnon said. "We had a thing with the Navy SEALs. They were asking us, 'What's the goal?' It was equally collaborated on: 'Win the Super Bowl.'"
Super Bowl talk among 49ers players isn't necessarily new. Former 49ers running back Carlos Hyde predicted in December that San Francisco would win the big game this season -- a prognostication that came months before he signed with the Cleveland Browns. Still, it's obvious based on McKinnon's comments that the 49ers aren't being stingy on their expectations.
A lot of the 49ers' success in 2018 will depend on their offseason acquisitions panning out. Deciding to part ways with Hyde in favor of McKinnon -- who mostly was used as a third-down back in Minnesota -- could be either instrumental or detrimental to the team's offensive aspirations.
McKinnon, for his part, knows the 49ers are aiming high when it comes to what they're trying to achieve.
"In the season, you're going to have ups and downs," McKinnon said. "That's just part of a 17-week NFL season. But at the end of it, you've just got to keep the eye on the prize, and that's the Super Bowl. So whatever it is that happens, we have to stick together as a team to get to that common goal."