Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Film From the Field House: A Fair Judgement of 49ers’ Right Tackle Mike McGlinchey

Bret Rumbeck
Jan 2, 2021 at 10:51 AM


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One of the few joys during the dull months of a football offseason is going back and distilling what happened to a team.

There are many reasons why the San Francisco 49ers did not have a repeat performance from 2019, but chief among them was the Grim Reaper's sanguine addiction for knee ligaments and soft ankles. A fully-loaded and healthy roster would have at least had the 49ers fighting to play postseason football.

A fresh set of eyes and time to watch tape will make one element of a disappointing season clear. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey was not the reason for the misfortunes of the offense.

Indeed, McGlinchey's errors and mental miscues seemed more magnified this season. His pass blocking technique seemed off and the whiffed blocks stood out even during the live broadcast.

However, McGlinchey's numbers are consistent with what he's put up over the previous two seasons. He's allowed five sacks, one fewer than last season, 10 hits, 20 hurries, and 35 pressures.

What failed to cut through the angry chatter was how much McGlinchey improved in his run blocking. His numbers are off the chart, and Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the second-best run blocking tackle in football, sitting just a few points behind 49ers' left tackle Trent Williams.

McGlinchey is not, and should not be, the scapegoat this season, especially when 49er quarterbacks only completed 15 passes deeper than 20 yards downfield.

Rather than start the new year off with 1,300 words of negativity, I thought all of us, McGlinchey included, could use a positive message.

1st Quarter – 2nd and 2 at the SF 26 (9:29)


Every time I get used to head coach Kyle Shanahan calling zone runs, he comes back with a game plan that includes more traditional runs.


'F Counter' is the 49ers' version of a trap play, which is no different than what you might have run in high school or college. A backside offensive lineman, typically a guard, pulls to the play side to kick out an unblocked defender. Any player on the defensive line could be the victim of the trap block, and in Shanahan's offense, it's the defensive end or Sam linebacker if he's on the ball.

Shanahan then has his F receiver, in this case tight end Ross Dwelley, insert off the Y receiver's block and remove any linebackers that might be hanging around.


Both blocks from left guard Laken Tomlinson and Dwelley were key to the play's success, but McGlinchey's down block was overlooked.

'16 F Counter' is running right over him, so it is a must-win situation for McGlinchey. It's tough to see in the screenshot because McGlinchey shoved Arizona defensive lineman Zach Allen six yards away from the line of scrimmage to clear the lane for running back Jeff Wilson, Jr.

Shanahan called another trap play during the 49ers' third possession of the game. McGlinchey provided a chip block inside and then knocked Arizona linebacker Isaiah Simmons to the turf. Wilson was able to gain 11 yards on the play, thanks to McGlinchey.

1st Quarter – 2nd and 7 at the ARI 32 (4:56)




McGlinchey dished another loss to Allen on '18 Zap', a single-back, outside zone run that attacks the strong side of the formation. Allen ended up well beyond the line of scrimmage, and Wilson was able to cut vertically behind McGlinchey for a six-yard gain.


On '18 Zap', Wilson is taking a path to the outside edge and reading his gaps from the outside back to the inside. If he sees something open up, he can 'bend' back against the grain or make a vertical cut like he did above.

McGlinchey is an excellent tackle for these zone runs because he has the brains and technique to remove defensive linemen from the play and get to the second level to make a block.

2nd Quarter – 2nd and 9 at the SF 10 (4:31)


Call it a New Year's resolution, but I want to bring some balance to these breakdowns.


The play above was an unimpressive rep from both McGlinchey and Williams. Arizona sent four defensive linemen on the play and kept it basic: four men rushing through a designated gap to try and sack the quarterback.


The 49ers were using 2 Scat protection, or gap protection which slid three offensive linemen weak and sent right guard Colton McKivitz and McGlinchey strong. Pass plays using 'scat' protection always have a hot route built in, which is usually the releasing back in the flat or sitting in the middle of the field. In this play, it was running back Tevin Coleman on what looked like a 'burst' route.


McGlinchey and Williams are not at fault for the sack. Both might have kicked themselves in the film review for an average performance, but Beathard refused to move his feet in the pocket or hit the back on the check-down. The quarterback's inability to move in the pocket and throw to the hot route is not the fault of the offensive line. That's a development issue that Garoppolo, Mullens, and Beathard have struggled with throughout this year.

3rd Quarter – 1st and 10 at the SF 29 (9:16)


Forty-Niner running backs have had a lot of success with '18/19 Force' this year, so it's no surprise that Wilson was able to gain 23 yards off the play in the third quarter.


'Force' is similar to 'zap' in that both are outside zone runs that attack the edge of the strong side of the formation. However, the running back has the added benefit of a lead block from the fullback in 'force.'


The fullback is going to block the Sam linebacker or the strong safety, depending on the alignment of the defense. In this play, fullback Kyle Juszczyk went right at safety Budda Baker.

While Juszczyk slipped off of Baker, McGlinchey removed the defender and set the edge for Wilson.

3rd Quarter: 2nd and 8 at the ARI 46 (7:52)



Shanahan dialed up his four verticals call mid-way through the third quarter for a 27-yard gain to Kittle. Usually, all players run vertical routes, but Kittle added a little flair to the play running a 'branch-nod.' It appears this twist helped widen himself from the safety.


'Aggie Now' is always run out of an empty set, so the offensive line heard the '3 Scat' call in the huddle. The offensive line slid three away to block the gaps to the left, while McKivitz and McGlinchey took the two gaps to the right.


The result was a very clean pocket, which gave Beathard plenty of time to read the field, gather, and cleanly hit Kittle for a big play.

There's no doubt McGlinchey has work to do in his pass protection. For every 10 pass plays, McGlinchey allows 1.32 total pressures of any kind. Compare that to Trent Williams, who only allows 0.71 total pressures for every 10 passes.

However, it's not about McGlinchey doing more squats. Pass protection is all about technique and footwork, not about power cleaning a small one-ton truck. He noted he needed to work on his technique in an interview on December 31, 2020.

"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."

McGlinchey has plenty of motivation to come back as a better player in 2021, and I am positive he will take advantage of the offseason to make the needed adjustments to improve.

All images courtesy of NFL.com.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless noted.
  • Bret Rumbeck
  • Written by:
    Bret Rumbeck has been writing about the 49ers since 2017 for 49ers Webzone and 49ers Hub. He is a Turlock, CA native, and has worked for two members of the US House of Representatives and one US Senator. When not breaking down game film, Bret spends his time seeking out various forms of heavy metal. Feel free to follow him or direct inquiries to @brumbeck.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


1 Comment

  • Frank
    Bret, that's a heck of an article. I agree with some of it...but one thing seems clear. The Niner braintrust (and Baldy) have said they want to see McGlinchey add @ 10 lbs. The thought is the added strength could improve his pass pro. McGlinchey says basically adding weight isn't the answer, so it appears there may be an impasse coming at some point. In cases like that, more often than not the team's desires outweigh the player's. It'll be interesting to see how that situation develops.
    Jan 2, 2021 at 8:06 PM
    0
    Response: Thanks, I appreciate you reading it. I don't know if 10 pounds helps his footwork. Often, when McGlinchey gets skunked, his feet and base are completely off kilter. Or, he's trying to punch but he's too far out over his hips - so, there's no power behind his arms. He also noted in his interview last week that he was in his own head, which can lead to making mistakes. I think he needs some solid offseason work (weights, mobility, technique, etc) and he'll bounce back.


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