The San Francisco 49ers' top pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, established himself as one of the best rookie offensive linemen a year ago. But his pass protection will need some improvement entering 2019.


With one year in the books, it's looking as if the San Francisco 49ers made the right choice in selecting former Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey with their first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

McGlinchey all but immediately secured the starting right tackle job, starting all 16 games and earning some pretty lofty accolades in the process. Pro Football Focus ranked McGlinchey the No. 3 overall run blocker among tackles in 2018, not just rookies.

At the same time, though, McGlinchey had his issues in pass protection. Despite giving McGlinchey a commendable 78.2 run-blocking grade last season, PFF also handed him a 64.2 pass-blocking grade. He allowed a team-high five sacks on the year, and his 23 hurries were tied for third most on the season.

Pass protection wasn't exactly McGlinchey's strength at the collegiate level either. He was known for his run blocking, and that attribute was a likely reason why head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. made McGlinchey such a priority in the 2018 draft. In fact, the 49ers' considerable efforts to revamp the offensive line in 2018 resulted in the team boasting the No. 10 overall run-blocking offensive line last season, per Football Outsiders.

Yet Football Outsiders also ranked this unit 22nd in pass protection, and McGlinchey's rookie issues up front heavily influenced that ranking.

There is good news, however. It's not uncommon for first-year linemen to go through some initial struggles entering the pros. Having already locked down a solid ability in run support, McGlinchey essentially needs to worry only about how to improve his pass blocking. On top of that, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's return from his 2018 ACL tear should do some good, too.

San Francisco's O-line showed some notable improvement over the final five games of 2017 when Garoppolo took over. While McGlinchey wasn't a part of that particular unit, one can expect Garoppolo's return and poise within the pocket will result in a boost to the O-line's efforts in 2019.

The 49ers O-line will experience continuity, too, as the starting five of McGlinchey, left tackle Joe Staley, center Weston Richburg and guards Laken Tomlinson and Mike Person figure to return to their respective roles in Week 1. O-lines typically require time to jell, so having all of last season to do so should help McGlinchey in his maturation process.

So while there are still some question marks facing McGlinchey in year two, there are plenty of reasons to suspect he'll make some notable strides in 2019.
  • Peter Panacy
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    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.