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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN names 49ers tackle Mike McGlinchey the NFC West Rookie of the Year

Jan 10, 2019 at 9:06 AM--

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Mike McGlinchey may not have been the most prominent name among Notre Dame offensive lineman entering last year's draft, but when it came time for the San Francisco 49ers to make the No. 9 overall selection, they didn't hesitate to pick the player who they thought could anchor the line for years to come.

ESPN handed out its NFC West awards this week, and unsurprisingly, the division champion Los Angeles Rams walked away with two of the four. Running back Todd Gurley was named the Offensive MVP while defensive tackle Aaron Donald earned Defensive MVP honors.

Coach of the Year went to Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks, a team that was seemingly a shell of its former self on paper yet managed to earn a playoff berth.

The 49ers were represented among the awards as well. McGlinchey was named the division's Rookie of the Year.

"The immediate returns on McGlinchey have been positive, particularly in the area most expected, the run game," wrote Nick Wagoner of ESPN, who represented the 49ers among the reporters handing out the awards.

McGlinchey, who doesn't put much stock in Pro Football Focus' grading system, ranked as the second-highest graded run blocker among NFL tackles and fourth among all offensive linemen across the league, according to the analytics site. By comparison, his counterpart on the other side, veteran Joe Staley, ranked eighth among NFL tackles.

San Francisco envisions McGlinchey eventually replacing Staley, who is preparing to enter his 13th NFL season and final contract year with the 49ers, on the left side of the offensive line.

McGlinchey's 73.2 overall Pro Football Focus grade in 2018 ranked second among all rookie offensive lineman and was bested only by former Fighting Irish teammate Quenton Nelson, who was selected three spots ahead of the 49ers rookie.

"While there have been some hiccups in pass protection, McGlinchey hasn't backed down despite facing the likes of Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Melvin Ingram, and other elite edge rushers," added Wagoner.

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