Mike McGlinchey

Mike McGlinchey defends Jimmy Garoppolo, says 49ers are 'so loaded'

Mike McGlinchey defends Jimmy Garoppolo, says 49ers are 'so loaded'

Mike McGlinchey is the latest to join the tour of defending Jimmy Garoppolo ever since the 49ers' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. 

McGlinchey, one of Garoppolo's key protectors on the offensive line, believes the 49ers and their QB have just touched the surface of their potential. If and when an NFL season begins again, big things are ahead in Santa Clara.

"We're so loaded," McGlinchey said Tuesday to ESPN's Jordan Schultz on Instagram Live, per 49ers Webzone's David Bonilla. "We're on a point where we can do something really special. You think about legacies of football players, and how (Aaron) Rodgers, and (Tom) Brady, and Brees have built their careers up. It almost feels like we're on the precipice of that with Jimmy.

"He's right there, and I think -- if we do have a season -- I think he's going to prove that he's going to take another step forward again."

Despite his impressive numbers, despite leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl one year after tearing his ACL, it feels like half of San Francisco's roster has defended Garoppolo this offseason. The front office sniffing at Tom Brady's free agency didn't help, but we're talking about the greatest to ever play the position. General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have made it clear Garoppolo is their guy. 

Every great team needs a great leader, and McGlinchey made it clear that's exactly what Garoppolo is.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"He's way different once he steps across the line," McGlinchey said to Schultz. "He's got that kind of aw-shucks, like Joe Cool, like really chill personality off the field, but as soon as you look at him in the huddle, the way that he looks at you, and the way that he's talking, and the way that he commands everybody around him, there's just something that switches in his brain. And it's just like, 'Alright, it's go time.'

"And he's such a competitor. He's one of the most competitive people I've ever been around. Like, really has a drive and works his a-- off to be so good. Playing with him is so fun.

"Hopefully, it's something where we're at the start of something really, really special here in San Francisco. Jimmy's young, and he's only going to get better."

[RELATED: Nine 49ers who are facing make-or-break season in 2020]

Expectations are sky-high for Garoppolo and the 49ers after their breakout season last year. Now, who's next on the defending Jimmy G tour?

Mike McGlinchey perfect man to keep Joe Staley's 49ers legacy alive

Mike McGlinchey perfect man to keep Joe Staley's 49ers legacy alive

Mike McGlinchey lined up against J.J. Watt with what felt like the whole world watching. Focus on 49ers joint practices with the Houston Texans wasn’t quite that intense, but it sure seemed that way to a first-round pick nearing his first competitive rep against real opposition. It was, however, a local attraction with most all eyes present glued to this particular matchup.

McGlinchey wasn’t necessarily nervous, but he sure wasn’t ready for Watt. The simulated practice snap prompted a flurry of physicality that put the rookie offensive tackle on his heels and then flat on his back.

The teams went about their business without much fanfare, though the exchange surely raised some eyebrows and provided an opportunity to jab the Notre Dame alum taken No. 9 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Joe Staley didn’t take it. The 49ers star left tackle known to crack a joke kept a straight face and offered some sage advice.

“Joe came over to me, dead serious, and said, ‘It can’t get any worse than that,’” McGlinchey recalled. “He told me, ’You might as well stop thinking about it and just cut it loose the rest of the day.’”

Staley then relayed a not-so-flattering story of Michael Strahan working him over his rookie year. The moral: Everyone takes their lumps in the NFL. It’s all about how you rebound.

“He connected with me in a way that, when it felt like all the world was coming down on my shoulders and I wondered how I would succeed, he put me at ease and I was able to re-focus and keep growing step by step from there,” McGlinchey said. “Among the multitude of lessons he has shared with me in the times we had together, that was the first one.”

McGlinchey told that story in a Tuesday afternoon video conference honoring his best friend and mentor’s 13 seasons in the NFL, all in a 49ers uniform. Staley announced his retirement Saturday during the NFL draft, an emotional moment for all in an organization profoundly impacted by his presence.

McGlinchey was privy to the information far earlier that most, but it still hit him in a way few have since Watt did almost two years ago now.

“There were a lot of emotions,” McGlinchey said. “I didn’t get hit with them until it became official and I saw the outpouring of people that he truly touched. The number of fans and coaches and former players that he had come in contact with who he left with an imprint was so powerful.

“There’s a great deal of sadness because I’m losing my best friend and teammate, but I’m excited for him at the same time. He has earned the right to hang it up and walk away with his head held high after spending a career with one organization. That’s something that’s so impressive and something I’m shooting for.”

McGlinchey’s shooting to have a career and a 49ers impact like Staley, with talent and temperament ideally suited to be the keeper of his flame. The 26-year old isn’t taking Staley’s literal spot at left tackle, not after the 49ers traded for Trent Williams. Just being himself would keep Staley alive in the 49ers locker room considering their personality types are virtually identical. So is their passion for the game and barometer for when to be serious and when to keep it light.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Those similarities have been clear to many, for a lot longer than McGlinchey and Staley have been teammates.

Then Notre Dame strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo noticed it back in the summer of 2011, when McGlinchey was a prized recruit there for junior day. Longo had been with Irish head coach Brian Kelly forever, dating back to his tenure as Central Michigan. Joe Staley was a Chippewa back then, so Longo knew what he was talking about. He saw Staley earn a first-round draft slot despite playing at a smaller school and saw similar potential in McGlinchey.

Turns out Longo was dead right. McGlinchey also was a first-round pick who made an instant impact and, barring injury, should have a career characterized by sustained success.

McGlinchey, then a 250-pound multi-sport prep star when the association was first made, wanted to see if Longo’s comparison fit. He went back home and devoured Staley’s game tape and postgame interviews. He even watched 49ers in-house productions of “The Joe Show,” short segments with the star tackle conducting ridiculous interviews on camera.

McGlinchey had played lots of tight end to that point but understood tackle was his football future and, after all that film study, decided to follow Staley’s path. He even asked the William Penn Charter High equipment manager to give him No. 74 his senior season as inspiration.

“Every interview, every game, everything that I saw was that this guy Joe Staley was the best in the world at what he did, but he was an even better leader and teammate on his team,” McGlinchey said. “That was always someone I wanted to model my game after and, now knowing him, model my life after.”

[RELATED: Joe Staley would love to coach, help 49ers in some capacity down road]

Background should give Staley’s pep talk after the J.J. Watt embarrassment greater power. That wasn’t just a veteran giving a young buck advice. This was McGlinchey’s athletic role model standing a few feet away, helping him improve. It was a passive relationship before, with McGlinchey drawing inspiration from afar. Not anymore, with he and Staley bookending the 49ers offensive line.

Staley was open and available to someone originally expected to replace him in time, and he built a lasting friendship with someone almost a decade younger now based on mutual respect. Moving forward without Staley will be difficult and at times unwelcome, but the 49ers locker room might feel the absence just a little bit less with McGlinchey there to carry the torch and soften the blow.

McGlinchey will represent Staley with actions, but he doesn’t need to cement Staley’s legacy. The man did that himself over 13 excellent seasons.

“To be the guy that generations of guys look to on film to see it done the right way, that’s someone to me who is a Hall of Famer,” McGlinchey said. “He affected 15 years of offensive lineman. When you show an example of how a left tackle’s supposed to play football, you should watch him. Joe was the most complete offensive tackle of his generation. That should be entrenched into the Hall of Fame.”

Mike McGlinchey sees one area Joe Staley retiring won't hurt 49ers

Mike McGlinchey sees one area Joe Staley retiring won't hurt 49ers

Left tackle Joe Staley was a one-of-a-kind individual who gave so much to the 49ers organization over the past 13 seasons. His retirement creates a void not so easily filled.

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.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

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.”