San Francisco 49ers tackle Mike McGlinchey has been awarded ESPN’s NFC West Rookie of the Year, topping off a standout rookie season.
When the San Francisco 49ers drafted Mike McGlinchey in the first round (No. 9 overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft, it wasn’t seen as a “sexy” pick. Many expected the Niners to go with a pass rusher or top cornerback, as at the time, tackle didn’t appear to be a top need for the team.
The 49ers traded their existing right tackle Trent Brown to the New England Patriots in order to make room for McGlinchey. Although Brown was considered to be a great pass protector, his grades slipped when it came to the run game. He had also reportedly let his fitness decline considerably during the 2017 offseason and lacked discipline when it came to managing his weight.
Renowned through his college career as an excellent run blocker and with head coach Kyle Shanahan placing a strong emphasis on the Niners’ run game, McGlinchey was his man.
McGlinchey continued his trend of run blocking in his rookie season with the 49ers, grading as one of Pro Football Focus’ top run blockers.
While recapping his rookie season with the 49ers, McGlinchey was slightly critical of his performance.
“I’m not satisfied with the way I played this year,” McGlinchey said. “Everyone says ‘Oh, it was a great rookie year.’ I’m not playing to be a great rookie, I’m playing to be the best in the league.”
"The immediate returns on McGlinchey have been positive, particularly in the area most expected, the run game. While there have been some hiccups in pass protection, McGlinchey hasn’t backed down despite facing the likes of Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Melvin Ingram and other elite edge rushers."
McGlinchey helped solidify what was a strong 49ers offensive line. While he did have occasional moments where he struggled against those elite pass rushers, he was quite consistent in ensuring a tight defense at the right edge.
He was also ranked by Pro Football Focus as their highest graded rookie tackle with a grade of 73.2 and the second highest rookie offensive lineman behind Indianapolis Colts guard and fellow Notre Dame teammate Quenton Nelson.
McGlinchey was the highest graded rookie offensive lineman for much of the season, with Nelson pipping him at the post with a grade of 74.3:
The accolades continued for McGlinchey, as Pro Football Focus named him in their 2018 All-Rookie Team:
With left tackle Joe Staley set to enter his 13th season, his apprentice McGlinchey looks set to be a solid replacement on the blind side.