Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Mike McGlinchey would prefer the atmosphere of fans in NFL stadiums, but...

May 27, 2020 at 8:44 AM--

The NFL faces the real possibility of conducting football games during the 2020 season without fans in stadiums. While it is difficult to imagine what that might be like, such a move is understandable given the continued concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, even as most states begin reopening their economies.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle has already said that no fans in stadiums might present him and his teammates with an advantage when it comes to certain road games.

"Home games will definitely be weird," Kittle told Pro Football Talk in April. "If I can go into Seattle or New Orleans without fans there, that will make my job a lot easier. Then I don't have to listen to anything. No more silent counts, nothing like that. That will make my life really easy. Hey, I'll play on the road, that's fine. No worries with that."

Offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey has the same line of thinking. On Tuesday, he spoke one-on-one with Jordan Schultz of ESPN on Instagram Live and shared his thoughts on the prospect of playing games without fans in the seats.

"Me and my buddies here on the O-line were actually kind of joking," McGlinchey told Schultz. "No fans is kind of an O-lineman's dream, right? So [we] have to go into Seattle, we have to go into New Orleans, we have to go into New England, we've got to go to New York twice, and Dallas. None of those stadiums are very easy places to play, at all."

Other than NFC West matchups in Los Angeles and Arizona, that list McGlinchey rattled off would be the 49ers' full slate of road games during the upcoming season.

"So if there aren't fans there, I don't have to worry about not being able to see a defensive end to try and block him," McGlinchey continued. "I'll be able to at least see who I am blocking instead of looking at the ball to see if it's snapped or not. People don't realize how hard that is, but it's a completely different mental process, and you have to calm your panic down just a little bit."

Of course, that doesn't mean McGlinchey is hoping for a season minus the fans.

"Obviously, you want the fans there," McGlinchey added. "I'd trade the electric atmosphere more than not being able to hear, any day of the week. But it was just kind of funny to think about not having to deal with the silent count for the entire year of football."

The NFL might be able to find ways to make fan-less stadiums entertaining for television viewers, though. That could mean more audio from players (but maybe not coaches) during the games. McGlinchey believes that one of his teammates might be a perfect candidate for that.

"Follow George (Kittle) around for a football game, and you'd probably be the most entertained human being on the face of the Earth," McGlinchey said. "He's one of those guys, when he's on the sideline, he can go anywhere in his brain, and as soon as he's back in the huddle, it's like, 'Alright, I've got a job to do.'

"George and I sit right next to each other on the sideline ... he'll just hit me with like, 'Hey, did you see that guy selling popcorn just trip and fall in the stands? That was crazy.' And I was like, 'No, George. I'm trying to figure out what's going on on the field.'"

McGlinchey notes that Kittle is just being a leader and trying to keep his teammates calm on the sidelines. When the tight end steps back onto the field, he is laser-focused.

Note: The full interview video has been removed from Instagram.

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