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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers OT Mike McGlinchey knows he needs to improve this offseason, says his size wasn’t an issue in 2020

Dec 31, 2020 at 4:27 PM--

Mike McGlinchey doesn't agree with every criticism that's been thrown his way throughout the 2020 season, but the 49ers' starting right tackle did admit during a media session earlier today that he has some work to do on his overall game once the offseason arrives.

McGlinchey, who is about to conclude his third season with the 49ers after being selected with the ninth overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, spoke at length today about some of the struggles he's had during the 2020 campaign. As has been the case throughout his career, McGlinchey has drawn praise for his work in the running game but left some questions about his performance in the passing game (for example, NFL analysis web site Pro Football Focus gave McGlinchey a career-high grade for run blocking this season but a career-low for pass blocking). McGlinchey told reporters he's generally fine with where he is in his overall development at the moment but thinks there are some tweaks and fixes he needs to make, especially in terms of pass protection and making the plays he needs to make in important moments.

"I think I'm okay with (where I am) right now," McGlinchey said. "I think there's a lot of things I did really well all year. There's things I did a lot better than last year. But I wasn't consistent enough. The fact of the matter is there were some bad moments this year that I let my team down when they needed me to be at my best and I didn't get it done. The thing I need to do is just be consistent. It's not as big of a drastic change as everybody would like to make it out to be. It's only a small fix here and there, and it's not like it's happening throughout an entire game. It's cleaning up the really bad plays that I've had, especially in pass protection and getting consistent and becoming the player I know I can be in that area and just staying at it."

Where did things go wrong for McGlinchey this season? Part of it, he says, was rooted in technique.

"I don't think it's anything that's glaring," McGlinchey said. "I don't think it's anything that needs a major fix. It's a body position thing here, fitting your hands a little bit there. And it's finishing plays and finishing games. That's what I'm going to do moving forward."

Besides that, McGlinchey also thinks some of the problems he faced in 2020 were of his own making. McGlinchey told reporters he let perfectionism get to him this season and that he needs to learn to focus on moving past his mistakes in a much quicker manner.

"That is my biggest problem," McGlinchey said. "It's a balance between wanting to be perfect and playing great football. There's a difference between the two of them. I think that's a lesson I've really learned this year is that no matter what happens and no matter the mistakes that I've made and the plays that I've given up, I can't ever let it again affect the next week. I can't ever let it again affect the next game. I can't ever let it again affect the next play."

One thing McGlinchey has taken some heat for this season from outside the 49ers organization has been his playing weight, which his critics have deemed to be too slight. Among those to call out McGlinchey for his size is NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger, who said earlier this month that McGlinchey needs to get stronger and hasn't gotten bigger since his college days at Notre Dame. 49ers general manager John Lynch also touched on the issue earlier this month, saying the organization will probably ask McGlinchey to gain some weight.

But McGlinchey doesn't view his size as a reason for his struggles in 2020. He told reporters he has been playing at 295-300, which is close to where he was in 2019, and that his problems are due to reasons other than his weight. But he also added he would work hard to add bulk, if that's what Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan ask him to do.

"I don't think my size has anything to do with my inconsistency of play this year," McGlinchey said. "Do I think I could be a little bit bigger? Sure. ...I was maybe five pounds lighter than I was last year. Maybe I was put together a little bit better, I don't know. It's a matter of, yeah, if that's a conversation I have to have with John and Kyle and Dustin Perry, our head strength coach, then absolutely. But I would not equate the things that happened to me this year based off of my body weight."

Whether it's his weight or his mindset, McGlinchey will have plenty to work on once the season comes to an end on January 3. McGlinchey's not the only 49ers player to struggle with perfectionism during his career -- tight end George Kittle has as well, telling reporters today he had to see a sports psychologist about the issue while in college at the University of Iowa and eventually came up with a unique approach to fixing the problem.

"When you think ten thoughts before snap, you're going to suck usually," Kittle said. "My big thing was in college I'd draw a big red button on my wrist tape, and it was basically a reset button. Every single play whether it was good or bad, I'd slap the reset button. There were times obviously like if I had a good play in the run game I'd just kind of let it roll and keep going, but if was ever getting too excited or if I was ever too down on myself, I'd hit the reset button. That's all it was for me. It's kind of a reason I have my Joker tat and I have my Master Chief tat on my arms. It's kind of a reset button for me but it's also kind of a channeling of energy type of thing."

While McGlinchey may not follow that exact path to improvement, he does feel the 2020 season will serve as an important experience that winds up helping him become a better player. It sounds like he knows exactly where to start on his path to making that happen this offseason, which is at least a good first step.

"I think it's something I needed to go through," McGlinchey said. "It's something that I needed to have experience with, and it's something I needed to do moving forward because the only person that hindered Mike McGlinchey this year was Mike McGlinchey. I know what I need to do to improve that now. I know how to get into the right mindset to be able to improve, because when you feel like the weight of the world's on your shoulders, it's impossible to be in the right mindset to want to and to work to improve and to truly be honest with what's going on on film."

And the more McGlinchey can improve in the weeks and months ahead, the more it will help him achieve one of his long-term goals, which is to be with the San Francisco 49ers for years to come. McGlinchey is signed through 2021 with a team option for 2022, which the 49ers must decide in the spring whether or not to pick up. It sounds like they probably will, but McGlinchey is hoping he and the team eventually wind up working out a deal that will keep him around well past the next two seasons.

"To be honest with you, I didn't realize it was up," McGlinchey said. "I didn't realize that was something we need to decide on relatively soon. I don't think about that. I think if any player thinks about their contract, I don't know how you can operate and play free on a field if that was something that you were worried about. I have people that take care of that for me. Ultimately it's not my decision, but at the end of the day, I want to be here. I love it here. I love our coaching staff. I love our front office. (It was) proven this year and what the circumstances have been for this team, we have the best ownership group in football. So this is a place I want to be. I want to be a 49er for as long as they'll let me be one."

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