In 2017, the San Francisco 49ers offensive line was not effective. That’s putting it mildly. With their first selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected right tackle, Mike McGlinchey. The former Notre Dame star made an immediate impact. The year prior, the 49ers averaged 2.9 yards per carry on all runs that were to the right end. That was good for 26th in the league. With McGlinchey, the Niners averaged 4.63 yards per carry to the right end in 2018. It might not be fair to give the rookie all the credit for that, but it’s evident McGlinchey is and will be a difference-maker for years to come.
There will always be fans that are unhappy with the pick. I will still see people commenting “it should’ve been Derwin James.” Hindsight is always 20/20. The 49ers weren’t going to take a safety with Jaquiski Tartt coming off the year he had in 2017, despite Tartt missing games. Teams don’t draft safeties in the top-10. They do tackles. One thing that has been fun to see is McGlinchey’s impact on Joe Staley off the field. They always seem to be out and about and having a good time. That is the type of chemistry you can’t measure in the box score.
Experience: 1 season
McGlinchey is going into the second-year of rookie year deal. His cap hit for 2019 is $4,168,608. As a first-round pick, he will be eligible for a fifth-year option. Because he was a top-10 pick, that option will be the average of the ten highest-paid players at the position.
Where he can improve in 2019
It has to be pass protection for McGlinchey. The rookie gave up 39 total pressures in 2018. That was the 12th most in the NFL. It’s fair to assume Jimmy Garoppolo will help cut that number down a little bit. Still, McGlinchey will need to improve. Most rookies do in year two. According to ESPN and NFL Next Gen Stat’s new pass block win rate metric (it’s a “win” if a blocker can maintain his block for 2.5 seconds or longer), McGlinchey has a 79 percent win rate on 483 pass sets, which ranks 19th among qualified right tackles.
If McGlinchey can limit some of the pressures he gave up a year ago, he could be a high-end starter in year two. That’s big. McGlinchey significantly improved the 49ers run game. His development in pass protection will be something to keep an eye on.
Why he might regress in 2019
It’s tough to watch McGlinchey play as a rookie and think “yeah, this is as good as he’ll be.” Rookies often struggle in pass protection merely because they’re not used to going against guys of that caliber. The only way I see McGlinchey getting worse is if he is unable to stay on the field. He’ll improve in pass protection because he will have a full season where he can study himself. First-year players are usually adjusting to the speed of the game and figuring out what they can and can’t do athletically. Expect a big year from McGlinchey in 2019.