The San Francisco 49ers were the NFL’s walking wounded during the 2020 season. The team led the league in adjusted games lost due to injury (per Football Outsiders) and had the second-highest total over the past 20 seasons.
San Francisco’s players missed 161.6 games to injuries, plus five more related to COVID-19. Here are the five teams with the highest adjust games lost for the 2020 campaign:
New England Patriots (134.8)
Philadelphia Eagles (128.1)
New York Jets (123.9)
Dallas Cowboys (118.5)
Only five 49ers started all 16 games last season. One of those is right tackle, Mike McGlinchey. The 2018 first-round pick had his share of struggles in 2020, and some fans let him know about it through social media.
Following back-to-back losses to the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles where McGlinchey didn’t perform up to expectations, he was frustrated with some of the reactions he saw online.
“I don’t really appreciate people who are the armchair quarterbacks that take a 30-second clip off of Twitter and think they understand offensive line play,” McGlinchey said in October of last year. “ I don’t understand. I don’t like that.”
McGlinchey opened up about how he handled the criticism during an interview with KNBR.
“I’m more disappointed in myself for the way that I let it affect me and my approach going forward in my own game rather than the way that I normally have always operated which is just to focus on me and our team,” McGlinchey said. “I think I needed to have that. I think I needed to have moments like that. I think I needed to be able to deal with that and learn how to deal with that moving forward to become stronger, to become tougher, to become more aware of what I need to control mentally to be at my best. And that’s what’s cool about it. I get another opportunity to continue to grow this year and I’m excited to put that to rest.”
Pro Football Focus gave McGlinchey the second-highest run-blocking grade out of any tackle in the NFL (behind only teammate Trent Williams). But PFF wasn’t high on the Notre Dame product’s pass-blocking, giving him a 58.3 grade, which ranks 65th out of 79 eligible tackles.
McGlinchey was moved off his spot too often, and opposing defenders were able to bullrush him successfully on numerous occasions in 2020. Sports Info Solutions had McGlinchey with 29 blown blocks on passing plays last season and had him being responsible for eight sacks.
McGlinchey tried to address his shortcomings in the passing game by staying at the 49ers’ facility throughout most of the offseason. He says he realized he needed to get stronger and is up to 315 pounds, a 15-pound increase compared to the beginning of the 2020 season.
“There wasn’t necessarily a number that I was trying to have, but it was definitely evident that I needed to get stronger,” McGlinchey said. “It was a tough offseason last year all the way through. Everything was shut down. Even our facility was shut down. Food resources were shut down, so I had to figure out and get creative about what I needed to do to stay on top of things. And unfortunately, it just made life on the field a little bit more difficult.”
Everything that could go wrong for the 49ers did last year. On top of dealing with all of the injuries, the team was forced to move its operations to Arizona following the tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County.
McGlinchey said those six weeks were difficult for him, and he’s glad the experience is behind him.
“It was an awful situation when you’re living out of a hotel room for 40-something days straight and your only time you come out of the room is to practice football,” McGlinchey said. “It just kind of seemed like a wild situation to be in. I honestly couldn’t believe that that’s what has happened.
“It wasn’t the easiest of situations to be able to play and win football games in. And hopefully we never have to do it again.”
The right tackle is glad the 2020 campaign is long over. Although McGlinchey has had time to reflect on his performance, he’s expecting to come back better than ever next season.
“The fact of the matter is, I had bad moments last year. I definitely deserved some of the criticism that I got. I don’t know if it needed to be as extensive as it was from week to week, but that’s what happens when you’re a focal point of your offense that’s kind of injury-riddled and I was a first-round pick, so expectations are high. Expectations for myself are high, but on top of it, I understand how frustrating things went last year and there were some bad things that I put on film that will never happen again.”
The 49ers’ offensive line should improve next season. They signed veteran center Alex Mack in free agency to solidify the middle of the line and added two players through the draft.
General manager John Lynch has already picked up McGlinchey’s fifth-year option that will pay the offensive lineman $10.8 million in 2022.
Do you think McGlinchey will have a bounce-back season for the 49ers in 2021?