The 49ers head into the 2023 offseason with 25 players (21 unrestricted, four restricted) entering free agency. Throughout the offseason, we’ll highlight each player and their case.
Mike McGlinchey is one of the most polarizing figures among 49ers fans. Jimmy Garoppolo is the undisputed polarizing player, but he has a staunch number of defenders.
McGlinchey hasn’t been afforded the same number of defenders. Now, the 49ers must decide if McGlinchey is a part of the team’s future. The free agent market
Mike McGlinchey, RT, 28
The 49ers used the ninth pick in the 2018 NFL draft on McGlinchey. 49ers fans love the “should have drafted this player” game. I’m guilty of it as well, I still haven’t recovered from drafting Jalen Hurd over Terry McLaurin. I only mention this because this is a large part of the conversation surrounding McGlinchey and his 49ers tenure.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne, Marcus Davenport, Derwin James, and Jaire Alexander followed McGlinchey in the draft. The 49ers had a plan and a player in mind for their offensive scheme, and that was Mike McGlinchey.
McGlinchey’s strengths were in the run game. The hope was the pass-blocking aspect of his game would grow with experience. Social media has done a disservice to evaluating McGlinchey’s game by highlighting one rep in which McGlinchey lost. There are 50-plus snaps per game, one rep doesn’t define an offensive lineman’s play.
When it comes to McGlinchey’s case in free agency, two questions are valid.
Who is the clear upgrade, and how much money is too much?
A large discussion and talking point is that any player is an upgrade. That’s unequivocally false.
Projections of players are a part of roster building. Sometimes projections are just projections. In the NFL, the things you know outweigh what you think will happen.
Last season, Tom Compton filled in admirably for McGlinchey. Compton was a journeyman who knew Shanahan’s system. Compton’s play last season was ammunition for the “anyone can replace” McGlinchey takes.
The problem is, Compton’s pass protection deficiencies were evident in the final two games of 2021. The Packers and Rams both attacked Compton, and it led to disastrous results.
McGlinchey’s play in 2022 was stellar at points. Eight weeks in a row from Week 10-17, McGlinchey didn’t allow a sack.
When you consider the injury McGlinchey was returning from (a career-ending injury for some) and the broken ribs sustained during the season, his performance in 2022 is impressive.
The 49ers find themselves in a bind with McGlinchey. The organization denied his fifth-year option. When you hear John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan speak, they are supportive of McGlinchey.
On the other hand, there is a growing sentiment the 49ers will balk at McGlinchey’s payday and promote Colton McKivitz from within.
What this comes down to is how much will a reunion cost.
Spotrac calculates McGlinchey’s market value at 14.8 million per year. Compared to Ryan Ramczyk, Lane Johnson, Taylor Moton, Braden Smith, and Jack Conklin, McGlinchey allowed fewer hurries per game than all except Conklin. All five players were in a similar situation, in terms of position and contract possibilities.
With the inevitable extension of Nick Bosa and Brandon Aiyuk on the horizon, it is tough to envision a reunion. Couple that with the fact McGlinchey is the best available RT in this free agency class and will have plenty of suitors.
The 49ers balk at matching contracts with another suitor, and McGlinchey gets his payday. Hopefully, Colton McKivitz or whoever is tasked with replacing McGlinchey can give the 49ers baseline production at RT. Using the money allocated to re-signing McGlinchey should be invested in the defensive line with a splash signing.