With how bad the San Francisco 49ers’ secondary has been at creating turnovers (only two interceptions this season), some would say they whiffed on their first-round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Mike McGlinchey. To those who say that, it’s clear you don’t appreciate the fine art that is offensive line play. It’s a physical and grueling process. Had the 49ers selected Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick, their secondary would have a couple more interceptions. Sure, that looks good on the stat sheet, but something that doesn’t get talked about is how well the 49ers have run the football this season.
Through 16 games this season, the 49ers average 118.3 rushing yards per game with an average of 4.4 yards per carry. That’s slightly up from last years average of 4.1 yards per carry and 104 rushing yards per game. Even though the numbers are relatively close, it’s clear that there has been improvement, and Mike McGlinchey is a big part of their success.
On the other hand, the 49ers have allowed 45 sacks this year, compared to last year’s 43. McGlinchey has given up four sacks, 10 QB hits, and 21 hurries, according to PFF. That gives him a 65.8 pass blocking grade for the season.
Even though the tape is up and down from a pass blocking perspective, McGlinchey has been tasked with some very difficult matchups in his rookie season. From Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen to Von Miller, Aaron Donald, and Khalil Mack, he’s played against all of them, and there’s certainly still some improvement needed in the pass blocking department. As a whole, though, Mike McGlinchey is proving his first round worth every week. Let’s jump into some film and see what he’s provided the San Francisco 49ers after being selected 9th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Matching up against Clay Matthews
It’s clear that Clay Matthews isn’t as good as he once was, but let’s be honest, he’s still very good, and if he was available, 31 teams would be lined up at his door. When the 49ers matched up against the Packers on Monday, the McGlinchey vs. Matthews matchup wasn’t always discussed, but here’s a clear indication of what McGlinchey provides.
On the play above, Matthews is aligned in a wide-9 technique. This puts McGlinchey in a tough spot because of how far he has to get on his horse and provide a clean kick slide. One slip-up and Matthews could easily rip through or counter back inside with a spin move that we’ve seen over the years.
That’s not the case, though. McGlinchey doesn’t cross his post foot with his set foot, and ultimately he does a great job taking the proper angle to stop Matthews from putting in pressure on the pocket. McGlinchey does a great job with his hand placement. They’re locked inside, which allows him to keep Matthews in front of him.
Consistent hand placement is key
If you’re teaching young offensive linemen, you’ll want to show them to keep their hands in their holster (around their hips) and then shoot them forward to make contact with the defender’s chest plate. If the hands of an offensive lineman aren’t consistent, the play will ultimately suffer and fail.
That’s not the case here with Mike McGlinchey. It’s a textbook block for the first round right tackle. He wins this battle because of hand placement. This block is textbook for offensive linemen everywhere. You can see him shoot his hands inside, lower his pad level, roll his hips and drive his feet. On the way down, he turns the defensive end (Dion Jordan, #95) and puts him into the dirt. Trust me, there’s more of this.
Here’s another body in the dirt for McGlinchey, with Dion Jordan again the victim. He does a great job of shooting his hands, driving, and just overpowering the former third overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. Despite the run blocking look from the offensive line, this was a designed swing screen pass from the 49ers. Either way, it’s a great block from the 9th overall pick.
Operating in space
Having versatile offensive linemen is important in the NFL. It’s also pivotal to have big bodies that can move in space. With his experience at left and right tackle, McGlinchey provides all of that. In fact, it was one of his best traits coming out of college.
I swear I saw this exact same play from McGlinchey when he played at Notre Dame. As is evident here, he gets out into space and just barrels over the defensive back. It’s important to have an offensive lineman that can set the tone and the edge when running a toss play, and it’s clear that McGlinchey can do that for the 49ers.
Ability to steer
Even though we talk about the importance of hand placement for an offensive lineman, it’s also important for them to be able to use their hands and steer a defensive player. This allows them to have control. Think of it like a car with the offensive lineman behind the wheel. The offensive line goes as they go, and for the 49ers, it’s clear they’re able to go as McGlinchey goes.
On the play above, you can see McGlinchey with his hand in the dirt. Across from him is the 3-technique, Branden Jackson (#93). Again, McGlinchey wins with hand placement, but watch what he does with his outside hand (right hand). He gets it underneath Jackson, which allows him to steer Jackson away from the open hole. This gives the running back enough time to get the handoff and make his way through the line of scrimmage.
Matching up against Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears
One of the least talked about matchups going into Week 16 was the rookie offensive tackle against the incredibly talented Bears defense. Khalil Mack leads the way, but Akiem Hicks is also a tremendous talent, and Leonard Floyd is starting to shape up to be the first round pick that the Bears had hoped he’d be. Beyond all of the talent in Chicago, something that needs to be talked about is how Mike McGlinchey hasn’t given up a sack since Week 8.
The center gets blown back into quarterback, Nick Mullens, but Mike McGlinchey does a good enough job against Khalil Mack. So many times we see Mack translate speed to power, use a spin move, or just speed rush off the right tackle. McGlinchey shows good enough lateral movement to transition his weight from his set foot to his post foot as Mack tries to work back inside. They remain stagnant, which means McGlinchey wins this rep.
On the play above, Mack doesn’t have anywhere to go with the chip from Kyle Juszczyk (fullback #44). But this is still solid effort from McGlinchey, and I think he would have been just fine regardless of the help from the right guard and the fullback. His kick slide is good and about as clean as it’s going to get against Mack. Meanwhile, his hands start a bit outside, but he replaces them well inside, and even though it’s a bit late, he does lower his pad level and anchor for a split second before the help from his teammates. Even though McGlinchey gave up six total pressures in the game against the Bears, he didn’t allow a sack, and this was a solid rep for the promising rookie.
Mike McGlinchey continues to dominate in the running game. pic.twitter.com/fpNzzglM8J
— PFF (@PFF) November 6, 2018
Slowly but surely, Mike McGlinchey is turning into one of the most dominant offensive tackles in the league. His technique in pass protection is getting better, and he’s been incredibly consistent and dominant in the run game all season long.
Not everyone loves when their team takes offensive linemen in the first round, especially when they could use a more “splashy” selection, but McGlinchey has been great for the San Francisco 49ers. Not only has his play been something to love, but just look at his face-mask. He looks like he time-traveled from the 1980s to take a break from facing guys like Jack Lambert and Joe Klecko.
As 2018 comes to a close, McGlinchey has battled against some of the best defensive players in the league. It hasn’t all been pretty, but for most part, he’s been consistent and is steadily improving every week. Regardless of the position, Mike McGlinchey is proving his worth as a first round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft.