Trent Williams was frank on Tuesday when he said, “I feel like we’re the team to beat.” He said this is the first time in his career that he’s felt that way about a team he’s played on. Williams acknowledged that all 32 teams have that same confidence, but Williams feels it’s real with the 49ers.
If San Francisco is going to be the team to beat, then their right tackle must avoid allowing sacks at the most inopportune times. Williams mentioned Mike McGlinchey right out of the gate on Tuesday:
“McGlinchey added weight. I think that was more of a personal thing that he wanted to do for himself. I think he looks great. I think he looks amazing. I know he’s been working his butt off.”
Added weight should help McGlinchey hold up against the bull rush, but being in a better mindset with his teammates having confidence in him will go a long way with McGlinchey.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan explained what McGlinchey has been through during his career:
“Yeah, Mike’s as hard on himself as anybody. I thought Mike had a very good rookie year. There were a couple of things he took a step back on last year, which he understood. And we’re also in a lot different situations.
First year, the way we played was a little bit different than the second year when we were playing sometimes catch-up football. And you’re in a lot of two minutes situations, which is a totally different element than how we played in 2019. I think Mike, like everybody, didn’t get quite the off season that he wanted. Not because he’s not a hard worker or anything like that, just going through COVID and stuff like that.
And so you see, where your weight’s at, how that affected you going through that year. Sometimes losing weight helps, sometimes it hurts. I think he put a little bit more on, but I don’t think that was the big thing. It was just being as strongest and most in shape, ready to go. And I think also the mental aspect of the game.
When you come into the league as a high pick and you have a good rookie year and you go through a couple rough spots in your second year, that’s not going to define you. It’s how you come back from it. And I think Mike really attacked everything. And sometimes you’ve got to tell Mike to slow down a little bit, because it means the world to him. Just talking to him, being around him today and yesterday, you can tell he’s in a great space and a great place. And I think he’s ready to go. And I’m excited to see him out there this year.”
Last offseason was tough for all of the players. Shanahan said that a lot of the team came in out of shape, and they “had to put a lot of guys on ice” during training camp in hopes to keep them fresh for the season, “but you saw how that worked out.”
Athletes are human. They get inside of their own head, overcorrect, and miss the forest through the trees. I imagine McGlinchey would admit as much last season. He was never this world-beater in pass protection, which was the case coming out of Notre Dame.
There’s a difference between completely shutting down every pass rusher, like the offensive tackle on the left side of the 49ers line, and being a blocking sled in the clutch. For San Francisco to have success, McGlinchey doesn’t have to be Trent Williams. Instead, he needs to be competent in pass pro while continuing to dominate in the running game.
A healthy starting quarterback should help, as should an upgrade at right guard. The 49ers did their part to help McGlinchey this offseason. Now it’s his turn to return the favor.