Mike McGlinchey had quite the rookie season. After being drafted ninth overall by the San Francisco 49ers, he immediately claimed the starting right tackle position. He battled some of the best pass rushers the NFL had to offer early in the season and showed his inexperience.
As the season played out, he became one of the best run blockers on the team. Like any player, there are areas where he can improve and areas which are on par with the best in the league.
It is often expected of a rookie offensive lineman to struggle with penalties. With the speed of the game increasing and the defenders better than those in college, the rookie is often intimidated into more penalties than veterans. This was not the case for McGlinchey as he only had three flags all season. Two of those penalties were accepted by the opposing team meaning he only cost the 49ers 10 yards in penalties all season.
McGlinchey was a pretty good run blocker to start the season but it was not until they played the Raiders did his run blocking ability truly come into form. In that game he escorted running back Raheem Mostert on a 52-yard touchdown run, blocking defenders along the way and matching Mostert step for step. Since this was on Thursday Night Football, the whole nation got a glimpse of one of the best young run blockers in the game.
Behind McGlinchey, the 49ers ran for 118.9 yards per game which were ranked 13th in the NFL. What is so remarkable about this is that they accomplished this despite losing four running backs over the course of the year. With a healthy lineup of running backs, it is plausible to believe the 49ers can have one of the best rushing attacks in the league next season.
Areas Of Improvement:
The 49ers started the season against some of the best pass rushing units the NFL has to offer. This is a daunting task for any offensive lineman, let alone a rookie. While McGlinchey battled valiantly, he ultimately failed to contain the pass rushers as the 49ers stumbled to a 1-9 start.
It was not just the pass rushers but the schemes. He struggled through much of the season to pick up stunts made by defensive ends and linebackers. It was obvious that he was overwhelmed in the first couple of weeks against heavy blitz packages.
His flaws were especially highlighted against the Minnesota Vikings. Going into the game the Vikings had one of the premier pass rushing units in the NFL and it was expected for McGlinchey to struggle.
The 49ers were hit with injuries to both options at right guard and McGlinchey finished the game filling in at that position. The Vikings were opportunistic and used a heavy blitz involving a linebacker and a nickel back to overwhelm McGlinchey and his replacement at tackle Gary Gilliam. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was pressured into throwing an interception which was returned for a touchdown.
The most devastating play of his rookie campaign was against the Kansas City Chiefs. On that play, he lost the battle to outside linebacker Justin Houston who proceeded to chase Garoppolo out of the pocket. While McGlinchey was able to block defensive end Chris Jones, Garoppolo tore his ACL while running for the first down. This disastrous play would affect the rest of the 49ers season and they would stumble to a 4-12 record as a result.
McGlinchey would calm down through the rest of the season but still struggled against elite talent. Players such as Clay Matthews, Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Khalil Mack proved to be too much for the rookie to handle in the midst of various schemes and athleticism.
McGlinchey showed promise throughout the season. He played well as a run blocker for much of the season and has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL. His pass blocking improved after the first few games but he still struggled against elite pass rushers. If he is going to live up to his potential then he must improve against the best. The future looks bright for Mike McGlinchey.