MIAMI — Super Bowl week is nothing new for Wes Welker.
The San Francisco 49ers wide receivers coach reached the game?s grandest stage three times during his playing career, twice with the New England Patriots (2007 and 2011) and once with the Denver Broncos (2013).
The thrill of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, however, is a joy Welker has yet to experience. His teams lost in all three of his Super Bowl trips — two nailbiters against Eli Manning and the New York Giants and a 43-8 shellacking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.
Now three years into his coaching career, Welker is channeling that lingering feeling of unfulfillment into motivation for his Niners wideouts ahead of Sunday?s Super Bowl LIV showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.
?Absolutely,? Welker said Monday during Super Bowl Opening Night. “I express it all the time. Shoot, I expressed it even in the spring, how bad of a feeling it is to not win it. Now we?re here; now we?ve just got to hone in and be on top of everything and make sure we?re ready to go when the lights are on on Sunday.?
Welker, who sported a plaid shirt and cowboy boots Monday night rather than the typical NFL-issued Super Bowl gear, said this week naturally feels different than the ones he experienced as a player. He?s excited for Sunday night, sure, but he?s “more excited for the guys and them getting to experience this.?
Would a Super Bowl victory feel different, too?
“Probably,? said Welker, the Patriots? all-time receptions leader. “But at least when people ask me, ?How many Super Bowls have you won?? I can at least say one. They don?t know if I got it as a player as a coach. So I can check that off the list.?
Welker?s players have that goal in mind, as well.
“Wes is awesome, man,? veteran 49ers receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “It?s been awesome. I played with Wes (in Denver), and now he?s my coach. He?s been to three Super Bowls and never won. I want to get Wes his first Super Bowl.?
After retiring from the NFL in 2015, Welker spent one year away from football before joining the Houston Texans as an offensive/special teams assistant in 2017. This is the 38-year-old?s first season in San Francisco, where he?s steered a receiving corps led by Sanders and talented rookie Deebo Samuel.
“It?s just so unbelievable,? Sanders said of Welker. “Knowing the guy, not only can he coach you, but he can go out there and show you instead of just telling you what to do. And just knowing the career that he had with the Patriots and the Dolphins, it?s just amazing for him to be my coach.”