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Despite struggles, Shanahan believes in Mike McGlinchey

San Francisco’s head coach is sticking by his right tackle.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One of the San Francisco 49ers’ 2019 season strengths has become a question mark for the team going forward. The Niners’ offensive line hasn’t been as good as it was during the team’s march to the Super Bowl, but head coach Kyle Shanahan still believes in his right tackle.

Notre Dame product Mike McGlinchey has had his share of miscues during the 2020 regular season. He was bull-rushed twice on crucial plays that resulted in incompletions that sealed a Week 5 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

McGlinchey made some glaring mistakes on San Francisco’s final drive against the Washington Football Team, which resulted in another close defeat. A holding penalty cost the 49ers what would have been a massive fourth-down conversion, negating a 22-yard gain. NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger broke down the two crucial plays that gave WFT the win.

“McGlinchey’s our right tackle and I feel very good about our right tackle,” Shanahan said. “Do I think he’s playing the best he can? No. I get the attention he got, especially getting that holding call on the last play and getting beat in protection there, but also going against a good rusher, that doesn’t give an excuse of it, but I’m not going to sit and make a huge judgment off of that.”

McGlinchey is one of the best run-blockers in the game. Pro Football Focus gives him a grade of 84.7 in the rushing game — sixth highest in the league — but his pass blocking comes in at 59.6, which ranks 61st out of any NFL tackle who has played more than 100 snaps this season.

Critics have been hard on the third-year pro, who is one of the offensive captains. The head coach understands that being called out for mistakes is a part of being a professional football player.

“That’s part of our business, McGlinchey had a big holding call,” Shanahan said. “We did some stupid things on offense that made it seem like we weren’t going to be in that game and we had a chance to show some light at the end and right when we got a little bit going, he had a big holding call. So, I get why that sticks out.”

McGlinchey will have to work on bulking up in the offseason. He gets pushed into the backfield too often in pass-protection, and although he has only given up 3 sacks this year, his man has been able to pressure the quarterback on countless occasions.

“I think he’s getting better in the pass game, but by no means do I not think he can be a very good tackle for us, whether it’s right side or left side,” Shanahan said. “He’s made of the right stuff and when you get beat in this league, it’s how you respond.”

The 49ers have been decimated by injuries in 2020, derailing any championship hopes they had coming into the season. Although McGlinchey — like the rest of the Niners’ offense — has struggled, he’s been one of the few players who have been on the field week in and week out.

Even though the 25-year-old hasn’t been at his best throughout the 2020 season, Shanahan is confident he will come back better in 2021.

“His first two years in the league, each offseason he’s gotten better, I thought he came into this offseason better,” Shanahan said. “He’s had a little setback here in the last few weeks, but I think he’ll step back big this week and I think this will lead to a better season in year four for him.”