San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon made headlines last month when he told NBC Sports Bay Area that he and his new teammates are focused on the Super Bowl. McKinnon knows something about championship-caliber teams. He and the Minnesota Vikings were in the NFC Championship Game just over four months ago.

"The whole team has talked about it," McKinnon said. "We had [a week of exercises] with the Navy SEALs. They were asking us, 'What's the goal?' It was equally collaborated on: 'Win the Super Bowl.'"

Count former NFL receiver Cris Carter among those who believe McKinnon's goals are a bit premature. He suggested last week that McKinnon and his teammates stop discussing Lombardi trophies when there is still so much work to be done. Carter doesn't believe the 49ers should be in the discussion of contenders this year.

"What other Super Bowl contender (is there that) we don't know 10 starters playing for them?" asked Carter during FS1's First Things First. "So, No. 1, get them off the Super Bowl contender list, right? Because ain't no way a team can be a Super Bowl contender and I don't know 10 guys on their team, ok?"

Fans criticized Carter, who is an analyst for FS1, for admitting that he cannot name 10 players on an NFL team.

Jimmy Garoppolo, who was acquired from New England via a trade last season, gave a very Patriot-like answer on Tuesday when asked about the high expectations building throughout the offseason. Much of those expectations are due to the 49ers' five-game winning streak to finish last season.

"I think we've got to have a strong finish to these OTAs first," Garoppolo said. "People always like to talk about the predictions with the season. Even when the season just ends, they start talking about it. It's all noise on the outside, but I think we have a good group that is locked in right now. We're focused on OTAs. We'll go into training camp, hopefully, have a good training camp, and take it day by day."

Garoppolo went through a crash course learning the 49ers' playbook after the mid-season trade last year. The focus back then was on learning just enough to prepare him for the team's final five games of the season. Now, Garoppolo's focus is on fully grasping all aspects of the offense and learning why head coach Kyle Shanahan is asking him to do something and not just figuring out how to do it.

"As the quarterback, you want to be able to answer any question that is asked to you," Garoppolo said. "You want to, if you get put in a tough spot on the field, be able to get the team into the right play.

"Last year, not that I was handcuffed, but I just didn't know some of the reasons of why we were doing things. It was just kind of 'get this by Sunday, and we'll tell you everything else in the offseason' type of thing. I think learning the whys has definitely helped me.

"I still have a long way to go. We're not even through OTAs yet. It's a work in progress, but it's coming along."

While the work in progress ... progresses, Garoppolo is becoming more comfortable as the 49ers' franchise quarterback and a leader on the team. More so than he was last year after joining the roster and then scrambling to learn enough just to get onto the field.

"I think just being comfortable in my environment and knowing everybody now," Garoppolo said when asked about the difference between last year and this year. "Last year, I didn't know everyone's name, so that was tough to begin with, and then I'm trying to learn everything week by week. It was a whirlwind last year, but now that things have slowed down, I feel more comfortable in the environment and getting more and more used to everything.

"It's a great situation. I love being here. I think we've had a good OTAs and we're working hard right now."

As for McKinnon, Garoppolo has been impressed with what he has seen so far this offseason out of his new teammate.

"Jerick, he's a talent, man," he said. "He does some things that you don't even know how he does them, is the best way to describe it. He's like a jitterbug back there, but he's savvy and smart at the same time, which is a great feeling as a quarterback having a guy like that."