49ers players who could stand out in contract year in 2022

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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A contract year tends to bring out the best in a player in the NFL, which is why the Niners might like what they see from these players in 2022.

The contract year has a way of bringing out the best in a player.

When an NFL player knows he’s headed for the first big payday of his professional career, it has a way of motivating him like never before. Suddenly he’s able to play through small injuries and there’s a newfound consistency to their game. Every team sees a leap from a contract year player and is all the more appreciative of the incentive to do well.

The San Francisco 49ers are certainly no different and players on both sides of the ball could come through in a major way—even on special teams. Let’s highlight a few names to watch in the months to come for the 49ers and how these pushed players could pay off in 2022.

Mike McGlinchey

It’s no secret that there’s Trent Williams and then there’s everything else when it comes to the 49ers offensive line. This offseason resulted in some key losses for the team’s offensive front (e.g. Laken Tomlinson) and injuries have held back other positions. At this point, the Niners are hoping that new faces will surprise and that health concerns will fade.

One of the biggest injury questions comes at right tackle where Mike McGlinchey’s status is still unknown heading into the 2022 season. The team’s former first-round pick (2019) is attending to some knee concerns, although head coach Mike Shanahan has stated nothing is structurally wrong. But that comes after an offseason rehabbing a quadriceps tear that cost him half of the season last year.

The truth is that McGlinchey is both a long-term starter who is currently missing as well as a former first-round player who has never quite lived up to his draft billing. That’s what made his preseason comments so exciting in early August when he claimed he was down to his pre-pandemic playing weight and said, “I feel 100% healthy. I feel like I’m moving around really well. I feel like I’m moving faster, more explosive, stronger, all that stuff.”

Right now, the Niners can only hope McGlinchey can make his way back into the starting lineup by the start of the regular season against the Chicago Bears. But given the fact that he’s scheduled to hit free agency next spring, there are greater hopes here for the team and player. McGlinchey knows more than anyone that if he can stay healthy and rebound to even show he can be solid starting tackle, there’s going to be plenty of money waiting for him from someone.