How will Mike McGlinchey's time with 49ers be remembered?

San Francisco 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey (69)
San Francisco 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Polarizing as a player, Mike McGlinchey's tenure with the 49ers had plenty of ups and downs prior to him leaving for the Broncos in NFL free agency.

Without question, the biggest big-name free agent the San Francisco 49ers lost this offseason was quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and those discussions about his time in the red and gold still aren't subsiding.

However, right tackle Mike McGlinchey was also another notable loss after having spent his first five years at the pro level with the Niners after they drafted him at No. 9 overall back in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame.

After signing a whopping five-year, $87.5 million contract with the Denver Broncos in free agency, McGlinchey finally got his. Even if it wanted to, San Francisco would have had an extremely difficult time matching that.

All told, though, McGlinchey was an opinion-forming player during his 49ers time. There was very little "middle ground" with regard to his performance and efforts.

With the dust settled from him leaving, what will his own Niners legacy be?

Mike McGlinchey's positive traits from time with 49ers

It's not hard to find Twitter takes out there saying McGlinchey was a bust during his time with San Francisco.

If so, being a bust translated into a contract worth $17.5 million, annually, is a pretty good reward for being an underachiever. Plus, actually ranked him the No. 7 best free agent entering the offseason, too.

McGlinchey was never going to be an elite pass-protector (more on that in a moment), but that's not why the 49ers drafted him. No, head coach Kyle Shanahan's run-first offense needed a top-level run blocker.

According to Pro Football Focus, that's precisely what the Niners got. Check out McGlinchey's career run-blocking grades:

  • 2018: 81.2
  • 2019: 67.2
  • 2020: 91.3
  • 2021: 63.8
  • 2022: 73.3

Granted, PFF data and grades aren't the gospel, so don't take it as the final conclusion. But it's helpful evidence. And it's also helpful knowing that McGlinchey's two years in the 60s (2019 and 2021) were also met with significant injuries, the 2021 setback being a torn quad from which he was able to return and play at a high level last season.

That alone might be commendable enough.

Plus, and while way more went into it than just McGlinchey, San Francisco's rushing offense finished in the top 10 in three of the right tackle's five years with the team.

Mike McGlinchey's negative traits from time with 49ers

Remember about McGlinchey being a polarizing player?

McGlinchey was never an above-average pass blocker, and those PFF grades never rose higher in a season than a so-so 70.5. And in 2022, he was hit was a career-high 10 sacks while also surrendering a career-high six sacks, too.

Going back to 2020 in something of a cruel-but-somewhat-funny video by Sports Illustrated's Grant Cohn, McGlinchey is seen being beaten by his man in bad, bad fashion on multiple occasions:

Alright, every offensive lineman out there is going to have bad plays, and cherry-picking 15 to 20 of them from any given season won't tell the whole story.

That said, when McGlinchey was beat, he looked bad in doing so.

Plus, his run support might not have been as good as it originally seemed. According to Football Outsiders, in 2022, the 49ers actually ran more successful run plays behind All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams than McGlinchey. Behind Williams, the average-line-yard metric was 4.8, whereas it was 3.69 behind McGlinchey.

Read more: Bleacher Report hates Mike McGlinchey's contract with Broncos

Sure, it's Williams. He's a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, but the rest of Football Outsiders' data on McGlinchey's impact last year isn't overly positive.

All said, McGlinchey will probably end up being remembered as a player who was decent, not great, and probably didn't warrant a top-10 selection.

Whether that legacy is deserved, though, is ultimately up to you.

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