The San Francisco 49ers’ decision to pick Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey caught plenty of people off-guard. There was some chatter earlier in the week, with Peter King and Daniel Jeremiah priming the rumor pump. Mock drafts moved in that direction late in the week, but it was still a bit of a surprise given the 49ers other needs.
Following the draft, general manager John Lynch offered a comment that summed up the McGlinchey pick pretty well. He was asked about the importance of protecting their big investment in Jimmy Garoppolo, and he got into the premium nature of the tackle position.
“Not a lot of great ones out there. God didn’t create a bunch of great offensive tackles out there. They are limited. We think we found a guy who has an opportunity to be that.”
The 49ers have a lot of needs, and it’s not like God created a lot of great pass rushers or great cornerbacks or great linebackers. But the team is clearly not super high on Trent Brown. Sure, they like his potential, but it’s become pretty clear over the past year that his weight, conditioning, and general play consistency has frustrated them. And with his free agency status fast approaching, they were going to need a premium option opposite Joe Staley.
And that’s really where this pick makes sense. Ideally, the 49ers will not be picking in the top ten of the draft for the foreseeable future (barring picks acquired in trades). You can find great lineman throughout the draft, but if you think you’ve got a shot at someone you can plug in for much of the next decade, you make the move. And you’re hoping you don’t have the opportunity success in the future means you are not in position in the draft to select someone you think is a line-altering option.
Kyle Shanahan went into even further detail about what excites him about McGlinchey and how he fits the 49ers scheme.
“I mean, good players fit our scheme. So, it’s a lot simpler than people think. You know, in the perfect world for our run game, since we are running outside zone the majority of the time, we would love a guy who could run a little bit faster and chase people down, which helps in the run game. But, usually the run game starts with the guards and the center, and usually protections with the tackles and we wouldn’t be throwing in the pocket from the inside, but as John said it’s very hard to be a tackle in this league because you have to have a certain amount of ability. Lots of people are looking for tackles and they are very hard to find. We felt that we had an opportunity to get the best tackle in the draft and I think a lot of people in the league felt that way.
“When you’re in that situation, a lot of people are desperate for him and that’s why you have to keep it somewhat of a secret because people will jump you and take them because they are limited. So, you don’t find many sleepers later in the draft when you’re talking about that position. So, when you have one of those guys who is capable of doing it, when you have a guy who you think is capable of doing your run scheme, who can, blocking, the pass game is the pass game. Can you block the guy in front of you and not let him get to the quarterback, there’s no different ways to do that. Every team does that the same. This guy can do that and he can do it at right tackle and he can do it at left tackle.
“To me what separates Mike from everyone else is the person you’re getting. It always starts with the film, always, and he has that ability. He has that talent. But, the soldier again, how committed he is to football. His football character. He’s an O-Lineman who has started 39 straight games. I’m sure he has some injuries, but we haven’t seen it because he doesn’t talk about them and he just plays. He’s a guy who shows up every practice, every week and that’s truly what we believe an O-Lineman should do. You can find some like that, but some of them aren’t good enough. This guy has it all and that’s what makes him not only just a safe pick but a very exciting pick because you’re getting that talented of a guy.
“But, I think you guys will see tomorrow when you meet him, you’re getting a rare person, too, which brings a different mentality on something that I think we would love to add to this building and love to add to what we’re trying to build with the 49ers.”
My personal preference was for a pass rusher, but if you think McGlinchey can be that good as a book-end tackle, I get it. Some will point to already having Staley at left tackle, and why invest that kind of draft capital in the right tackle. While the blind side remains critical, in reality, good pass rushers are getting opportunities on both sides of the line. McGlinchey will likely slot in right away, and hopefully help solidify the line.