Nothing about 2020 has gone according to plan.
After playing their way to an appearance in Super Bowl LIV, the 49ers had planned to make their way back to the big game, naming this season “The Revenge Tour.”
Then, in the first two weeks of the season, the club dealt with losing a staggering amount key players to injury on both sides of the ball.
The 49ers head into Week 6 battered and bruised, with a losing 2-3 record after the supposedly “easy” part of the schedule. They are now face-to-face with a gauntlet of games that will be their toughest yet.
What happened to the formidable and tough-to-defend run game? Why has Jimmy Garoppolo, even prior to his high ankle sprain, not looked like himself on the field? Who is to blame?
Much of the criticism from the fan base has been on coach Kyle Shanahan, the injuries, and after allowing 18 sacks in five weeks, the offensive line.
Mike McGlinchey has always taken ownership over his mistakes on the field and has spoken openly and honestly with the media after games. On Wednesday, the consistently unruffled right tackle had had enough and expressed his disdain for the quick takes on social media.
“Obviously, I don’t really appreciate people who are the armchair quarterbacks that take a 30-second clip off of Twitter and think they understand offensive line play,” McGlinchey. “I don’t like that.”
McGlinchey went on to describe a play he’d like to have back from the team’s Week 4 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Near the end of the first half, the 49ers were driving and only 14 yards away from the end zone when the right tackle went a little too heavy on Eagles linebacker Genard Avery.
After Avery recovered, he was able to pursue and hit Nick Mullens, who still had the ball in his hands. The ensuing pass was intercepted by Eagles safety Rodney McLeod and the 49ers lost their chance to take the lead.
“That kind of thing just can’t happen, so yeah, that’s a fair assessment,” McGlinchey said. “But in terms of the overall picture, I’d ask those people to watch the entire game because I’m pretty confident that other than the one or two that have happened, that have been glaring, I’ve been putting together an entire season and continue to get better each week.”
Players, ranging from All-Pro Richard Sherman to reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa, have discussed how impossible it is to play a perfect game. While perfection is a goal, even when a play looks like it was flawless and leads to a touchdown, it is out of the question that each element went exactly as planned.
“My teammates can’t, I can’t be the guy that lets our team down in any situation whether it’s one play, whether it’s 10 plays,” McGlinchey said. “I think the things that you have been saying have been a little over the top.
“I think nobody is watching a complete football game and they’re choosing a lazy narrative of one play or two and they see something on Twitter and they think they have it figured out.”
McGlinchey has played 332 snaps through five weeks of football and the idea for them all to be mistake-free is unreasonable. With Shanahan's outside zone run game, everyone on the field plays a role in blocking and not just the offensive line. Tight ends, wide receivers and running backs all have their assignments.
Raheem Mostert's 80-yard touchdown run against the New York Jets doesn't happen if Kendrick Bourne doesn't make his block near the sideline. It literally takes all 11 players to make the play happen but when things go wrong, the offensive line is the easy scapegoat.
Is the public overreacting because of their incredibly high expectations after witnessing their team get within minutes of hoisting the Lombardi trophy in 2019? Maybe, but regardless of what the public thinks, McGlinchey and his teammates will continue to work, striving for perfection that is impossible to reach.