Mike McGlinchey's biggest obstacle in 2020 has been himself.
One day after coach Kyle Shanahan urged the right tackle not to worry about the 49ers picking up his fifth-year option, McGlinchey spoke candidly about what has held him back in his third NFL season. (Side note: Neither party had realized the deadline to exercise the option was nearing.)
McGlinchey’s struggles have been a bit overblown, but the mistakes he made came at the most inopportune times. Living up to the expectations of being a top 10 pick can be daunting, but what has plagued the right tackle has been overthinking how to be perfect in every situation.
That split second of indecision has been costly.
“It’s 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, and I think that’s a lesson that I’ve really learned this year.
“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.”
Having a short memory is an overused sports cliché but it rings true for McGlinchey. With talented pass rushers like Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald and Arizona Cardinals' Haason Reddick coming at him full speed, any hesitation is detrimental.
While McGlinchey has been heavily-scrutinized this season, he has excelled in the run game. According to Pro Football Focus, McGlinchey holds the second-highest grade (91.1) of all tackles in run blocking behind teammate Trent Williams (92.0).
It has been in pass protection where the 25-year old tackle has struggled. McGlinchey ranks 93rd among tackles, allowing five sacks, 10 hits and 20 hurries. Those mistakes are what McGlinchey says he must let go of during a game. The scrutiny McGlinchey has felt has first and foremost come from himself.
"It’s something that I needed to go through,” McGlinchey said. “It’s something that I needed to have experience with and it’s something that 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, and I know how to get into the right mindset to be able to improve because when you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders it’s impossible to be in the right mindset.”
Williams has been voted to the Pro Bowl eight times but remarked that he went through the same growth process and understands McGlinchey's struggles. The veteran believes that his younger counterpart has the physical ability and talent to break through.
“It is tough,” Williams said. “It took me two to three years for me to find the balance of not overthinking doing my job and letting my game come to me. It took a long time and it’s definitely not as easy as you’d think.
“The game of football happens extremely fast, especially in our position. We’re a foot away from some of the most scary athletes that you could even think about. You got to find that balance and it takes some time. It happens different for everybody but it definitely is not something that you just wake up overnight and say, ‘Hey I got it.’”
While fans and football pundits have been very critical of McGlinchey this season, he has been even harder on himself. The right tackle knows he has the ability to be successful on the field and will do everything in his power to get better not only in the 49ers' final game Sunday but also in seasons to come.
"Yes, I need to improve," McGlinchey said. "I absolutely need to improve and nobody will admit that more, and nobody will be harder on me, than me."