Mike McGlinchey has been close to the ultimate prize.
In February of 2020, the 49ers led the Chiefs until the final minutes of Super Bowl LIV.
Two years later, the 49ers were back in the NFC Championship Game. And just a few months ago, McGlinchey and the 49ers seemed likely to pose a threat to the top-seeded Eagles in another NFC title game before losing quarterback Brock Purdy — and then Josh Johnson — to injury.
So while McGlinchey arrived in Denver as the team's prized free agent with a substantial contract, his focus is solely on getting back to — and surpassing — his previous accomplishments.
"That's the only thing that matters," McGlinchey said Thursday. "We only play this game to win, to win a Super Bowl and to have that moment in our life that we can always look back [on]. No one can take that away from you. I was close a couple times. I went to three title games. Seven minutes away from winning one. That's the only thing that motivates you to get back."
In Denver, McGlinchey sees a team that has the potential to realize those goals.
"This team is capable of that," McGlinchey said. "We have a head coach that has been there and done that, and I think everybody's chomping at the bit to be able to turn this franchise around and start winning games for Denver."
Both Head Coach Sean Payton and quarterback Russell Wilson have won a Lombardi Trophy, and McGlinchey said that experience is "huge" for a team that is looking to snap a significant playoff drought.
"I think experience matters," McGlinchey said. "Putting yourself in the biggest moments and experiencing those biggest moments and what the emotions feel like and what it takes to get there is certainly something that's incredibly valuable. I think having that championship pedigree just trickles down to everybody else. I think there's a blueprint on how to have success in this league, and I think the two of them have certainly found it. I believe I have as well. I came from a place with a lot of winning and can't wait to start doing that trend here."
After coming close several times, McGlinchey couldn't be more focused on finishing the job.
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McGlinchey was a two-sport athlete in high school, as he played both football and basketball. He joked Thursday that he chose football as his long-term path because of the quality of school that recruited him, but his heart always belonged to football.
"Football was the game that I loved," McGlinchey said. "It was my family's game. … It was always the thing I wanted to do. I played tight end mostly throughout high school, but when I started getting recruited, every school made it abundantly clear that I was going to have my hand in the dirt and [be] blocking people. It made it really easy for me to transition, because the decision was pretty much made for me."