With All Pro Tackle Joe Staley set to miss 6-8 weeks with a leg injury, the attention this week in 49ers land has been on his replacement at left tackle: 6th round pick Justin Skule. And while his performance will certainly play a key role in whether or not the 49ers win their home opener against the Steelers this Sunday, it’s possible that another player’s performance will be even more integral in how the team performs this weekend:
Right Tackle, Mike McGlinchey.
McGlinchey will be spending the majority of the game lined up opposite the Steelers number one pass rusher: TJ Watt.
Watt is in his third year with the Steelers, and is just a year removed from a stellar 2018 campaign having lead the Pittsburgh D with 13 sacks and 6 forced fumbles.
It has been speculated that Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler may try to get creative in moving Watt to the opposite side of the line to take advantage of the rookie, Skule’s inexperience. But that hasn’t been the case in the past, as Watt has lined up almost exclusively on the right side regardless of matchup.
The good news is that McGlinchey might be up to the task based on his performance to date. While the sample size is small, McGlinchey has yet to give up a sack in 2019, and according to ESPN’s analytics index, McGlinchey is tied for 1st in the league among offensive tackles with a pass block win rate of 100%.
In addition, I would expect Shanahan to give the Steelers a heavy dose of outside zone, play action, and screen passes to help slow the aggressive Pittsburgh pass rush.
That - combined with McGlinchey’s outstanding performance in pass protection to date - should help neutralize TJ Watt this Sunday, or at the very least minimize the impact that he’s able to have, giving Garropolo and the rest of the offensive playmakers plenty of time to put points on the board.
And now, onto the links:
49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo jumps seven spots in NFL.com’s QB Index (David Bonilla, 49ers WebZone)
Niners put WR Taylor on IR, add Young to aid OL (Nick Wagoner, ESPN)
49ers GM John Lynch on Jalen Ramsey: ‘He’s one heck of a football player’ (David Bonilla, 49ers WebZone)
5 Key Matchups: 49ers Home Opener vs. Steelers (Matthew Asher, 49ers.com)
49ers should explore trading Solomon Thomas (Peter Panacy, NinerNoise)
San Francisco 49ers: John Lynch justified in not pursuing Antonio Brown (Jeremy Wohlfart, NinerNoise)
Kyle Shanahan Addresses Trent Taylor to IR, Dee Ford Questionable in Week 3 (Kelana Martin, 49ers.com)
Jerry Rice thinks 49ers can win the Super Bowl — this year (Darin Gantt, Pro Football Talk)
Why Richard Sherman believes star players seeking trades is good for NFL (Matt Maiocco, NBC Sports)
Around the NFL...
Brown out: Pats cut WR amid off-field allegations (Mike Reiss, ESPN)
Fast Connections, Week 3: Even at 36, Fitz won’t quit (Jason Hirschhorn, NFL.com)
Jags owner willing to make Ramsey highest-paid CB (Kevin Patra, NFL.com)
Gardner Minshew is off to greatest start for any rookie quarterback in NFL history (Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports)
Week 3 NFL injuries: Cam Newton ruled out vs. Cardinals, Alshon Jeffery questionable for Eagles (Bryan DeArdo, CBS Sports)