Few know that better than right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who must now help the 49ers carry on without his best friend and mentor. He identified one area, however, of seamless transition.
“We’re losing our leader. We’re losing our guy. We’re losing the heart and soul of the 49ers,” McGlinchey said Tuesday in a video conference with local reporters. “That stuff is going to be tougher to replace than the production out of our left tackle because Trent is so good.”
That’s Trent Williams, the superstar left tackle acquired from Washington on Saturday during the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s also high praise for a player charged with replacing Staley, one of the best left tackles of his or any generation.
“When you replace a Hall of Famer with another Hall of Famer, it’s going to look good,” McGlinchey said. “What Trent adds is that we’re not going to lose the production of a Hall of Fame left tackle. That’s the coolest thing about this whole situation.”
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The 49ers executed the trade on the draft's third day that prevented a drop-off at a premium position, and Staley didn’t declare his intentions until after the Williams deal was done. Staley didn't tell the 49ers officially that he would retire until last week, and viewed the NFL draft as his deadline to make an announcement. The 49ers got an elite replacement in that window of opportunity before the whole NFL world knew Staley was finished playing.
“What Joey even did to make sure that we as the 49ers were OK after he made this decision official, we don’t have a drop off,” McGlinchey said. “We replaced one of the best tackles in the NFL with another one of the best in the NFL. They play the game similarly. They have nastiness in them, have off-the-charts athletic ability and are incredible in pass protection.”
[RELATED: Willis shares memories of Staley]
McGlinchey texted with Williams shortly after the trade was executed and is excited to have him in the position group.
“I know a lot about Trent Williams,” McGlinchey said. “He’s another guy who has been at the top of football and offensive line play for the last decade. He’s a seven-time Pro Bowler. He moves incredibly well. He’s so gifted as an athlete and, from everything you hear about him, he’s just as hard of a worker and plays just as hard as anybody out there. That is exciting.”
It also means McGlinchey will remain at right tackle another year at least, with the 49ers and Williams playing wait-and-see on a contract that goes beyond the 2020 season. Williams is set to be an unrestricted free agent in March.
The 49ers could look to McGlinchey to switch from right tackle to his pre-NFL spot on the left side at that point or down the road, but it’s not something McGlinchey thinks much about.
[RELATED: How Staley impacted Bucs-49ers trade]
“I’m very comfortable being a right tackle,” McGlinchey said. “I have no problems continuing my career, if that’s the way they want it, at right tackle the entire time. It’s something I’m getting very good at. It’s something that doesn’t matter anymore. I can’t think of a reason why I would need to make the switch other than outside world hype on left tackles still a little higher than right tackles. The NFL doesn’t view it that way, with guys like Lane Johnson and Trent Brown and the contracts they got, and the left tackles that are coming in and out. It’s not a stigma to be a right tackle any more, so I’m OK either way.”