SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers easily scored a touchdown on last week’s opening series against the Minnesota Vikings. A similar result seemed likely on their second drive until it stalled out near midfield.
Right tackle Mike McGlinchey takes the blame for that. The second-year pro never got set on first down, as Vikings edge rusher Danielle Hunter strolled right past him for an easy sack. Then, on a 3rd-and-19 of his own creation, McGlinchey jumped way too soon, drawing a flag for a false start.
The Notre Dame product obviously was pissed after the 49ers headed to the sideline one broken play later, but he understood his issues were more brain farts than technical failures. He wasn’t getting beat, he knew he had to be a pro and rebound.
“There were two mental errors that I let slip. I missed on the cadence both times,” McGlinchey said Thursday. “I didn’t come off the ball and gave the guy a free path at the quarterback and then I cause a 5-yard penalty on top of that. It’s something that just had to get back to what I was doing. You can’t let one play affect the next one, and unfortunately, I let a mistake affect two of them.
“There was still game to be played, and if I would’ve stewed over mistakes, the next play was going to go poorly as well.”
He didn’t. He rebounded well and played a near-perfect game after that, proving integral to a 27-10 victory over the Vikings that vaulted his 49ers into Sunday’s NFC Championship Game clash with the Green Bay Packers.
He gave up but one other quarterback pressure to Hunter -- the second-team All-Pro had 14.5 sacks during the regular season and 2.5 more in the playoffs -- an impressive feat to be sure. McGlinchey was dominant in the ground game, even when the 49ers got real predictable and ran it right down Minnesota’s throat.
Everybody makes mistakes during a game, but McGlinchey’s response to his impressed those around him.
“No one really plays a 100 percent clean game,” left tackle Joe Staley said. “It's all about just taking the next play and I thought he did a great job of going to the sidelines, regrouping and came back out and played a terrific game.”
McGlinchey rebounded fast last week. It took a lot longer in his younger days when his temper would erupt like an active volcano.
“I was a hothead when I was little, and I’d get frustrated and have to blow my top off with my anger,” McGlinchey said. “I had to learn how to control that as a kid, and it’s the same thing when you’re older. You have to learn how to respond when things don’t go your way, especially in the heat of a moment like that.
McGlinchey has learned a valuable skill in bouncing back. He also has learned how to face off against pass rushers he has seen before.
That will be the case Saturday against the Packers, a team the 49ers dominated in Week 12. McGlinchey was a big part of that, giving up just one quarterback hurry to a Green Bay front that features Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith.
McGlinchey took mental and physical notes on the experience that he plans to use in the rematch. He knows the Packers will bring some new elements to the table, but a successful experience and tendency knowledge should help on game day.
“One of the hardest things to handle when you’re preparing is the unknown,” McGlinchey said. “This is probably true for them and for me, but it gives you some confidence knowing you’ve worked against someone before and you know what works and what doesn’t. You have to log memories of how to block different rushers and what it felt like in that moment. They have two really good rushers and a solid front across the board. You have the film to go back on and think about what you could’ve done better. Then you go back to your notes and there it is.”
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)
Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.