The San Francisco 49ers made a somewhat surprising selection in the first-round of 2018 NFL Draft, taking Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey ninth overall. The reason the pick caught some off guard was that the Niners seemed to have more pressing needs elsewhere (specifically on the defensive side of the ball) and there were still impact players on the board that would have alleviated those issues on the roster. If you look a little deeper though, you'd see that San Francisco made a forward-thinking move that filled a hole before it became a major problem.

The real buzz surrounding McGlinchey started earlier in the week when Peter King of Sports Illustrated wrote that the 49ers were giving serious consideration to the offensive lineman. As the days went on, the whispers started to get a little louder, and people I spoke to throughout the week confirmed that McGlinchey was indeed a name to keep an eye on come draft night. But why would John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan want a tackle when they already have two good ones on the roster? The explanation is simple.

LT Joe Staley is coming off a strong 2017 campaign, but he'll be 34-years old when the new season starts. As good as Staley is, Father Time will catch up with him sooner or later, and it's hard to imagine the veteran playing past 2019 (which is when his current contract expires). Looking over at the right side, Trent Brown is a talented pass blocker and excelled in that department last year. But let's be honest, he has red flags, and there was zero chance of the 49ers paying him when his deal expires after this upcoming season. The issues with Brown seem to stem from his conditioning (he reportedly showed up to the team's offseason program out of shape) and his struggles in the run game. Combine that with the fact that he's still recovering from shoulder surgery, and you had a player who would have been moving on sooner rather than later.

So with Staley aging and Brown not a part of the plans moving forward, getting a legitimate offensive tackle should have been a priority. Now, McGlinchey will plug into the starting lineup opposite Staley, with the hopes that he can become the primary left tackle in a year or two. It's a smart move, and shows a commitment to protecting the team's most important investment, QB Jimmy Garoppolo. McGlinchey will join C Weston Richburg as centerpieces of an offensive line that will be tasked with keeping Garoppolo upright for the next five-plus years. Is there anything more important than keeping your franchise quarterback healthy?

As far as McGlinchey the player, it's easy to see why Shanahan coveted him. McGlinchey is smart, athletic, and fits the mold of what the coach is looking for in an offensive lineman. His size (6'7, 309 lbs) and arm length (34 inches) are ideal, although detractors will say he needs to add more strength. Even if the latter is an issue, you'd have to think an NFL strength and conditioning program could fix the problem.

A final note that can't be understated in all of this is the impact the newest 49er could have in the locker room. A two-time captain at Notre Dame, McGlinchey should evolve to be one of the leaders of a young team that's still growing into itself. That's especially important with Staley in the twilight of his career.

Al Sacco is the Senior Writer for 49ers Webzone and has had his work used by national outlets such as ESPN and USA TODAY. In addition to his writing duties, Al is also the co-host of the No Huddle podcast. If you'd like to reach Al with a media request, please contact him via Twitter @AlSacco49 or at nohuddle@49erswebzone.com.