Does Mike McGlinchey receive enough credit for 49ers' NFC West title?

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Does McGlinchey receive enough credit for 49ers' success? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers had opportunities in the fourth quarter of their 37-20 victory over the Washington Commanders on Saturday to blow it open.

They reached the Commanders’ 10-yard line twice. But two false-start penalties on third downs contributed to the 49ers settling for short field goals. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey was the player called for the infractions.

Those unforced errors partly overshadowed what was an otherwise strong game for the fifth-year player. His pancake block on veteran linebacker David Mayo helped spring Ray-Ray McCloud for a 71-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

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McGlinchey has not allowed a sack in the past seven games, per Pro Football Focus. He has allowed just eight pressures during that stretch, as the 49ers own an eight-game win streak with two games remaining in the regular season.

Does McGlinchey receive too much criticism for his mistakes while his contributions toward an NFC West title go mostly unappreciated? Perhaps, but McGlinchey realizes that is part of the deal.

“I think I have thick skin now,” McGlinchey told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I don’t know if I did early [in my career].

“I think that’s something I’ve had to learn and accept about this gig. I think when you’re picked high and you’re playing for a franchise with the standard of excellence like the 49ers, you need to be as good as you can be. And those kinds of things come with the territory.”

The 49ers won the coin toss for the No. 9 spot in the 2018 NFL Draft over the then-Oakland Raiders, a team that also had its sights set on McGlinchey.

McGlinchey might receive more scrutiny because the 49ers selected him over such Pro Bowl players as Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tremaine Edmunds, Derwin James and Vita Vea.

The Raiders traded back five spots and selected tackle Kolton Miller. While Miller, like McGlinchey, has never received Pro Bowl recognition, the Raiders showed their appreciation to him with a three-year, $54 million extension after the 2020 NFL season.

Meanwhile, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option for McGlinchey, paying him $10.88 million for this season. His future with the club is up in the air with him scheduled for unrestricted free agency in March. McGlinchey, 27, figures to be an attractive option for any of the large number of teams determined to upgrade their offensive line this offseason.

It has not always been a smooth ride for McGlinchey. He is playing the best ball of his career while also owning up to his errors.

“Every mistake I’ve made, I deserve criticism for,” he said. “I’ve made some bad ones, for sure. But I’ve also played some really, really great football.

“I’ve learned that the only way to get better is by blocking that stuff out and accepting it as part of the job and just continuing to move forward and play as good as you can. I’ve done that to a pretty good degree this year and the last couple of years.”

According to Pro Football Focus, McGlinchey is ranked as the 49ers’ third-best pass protector this season behind Trent Williams and center Jake Brendel, and behind only Williams as a run blocker.

McGlinchey’s improved play can largely be traced to his physical condition. He had a knee condition that he managed over the past couple seasons. When it gave out last season, he underwent an extensive procedure that sidelined him for the final nine games of the regular season and the team’s entire postseason run.

"I was obviously not as healthy as I am now, but I felt I was playing really good ball last year and I was on my way to doing a great job," McGlinchey said. "But it got cut short, and that’s the way football is.

“I’m here again, and we have another opportunity.”

McGlinchey believes he has settled into a solid routine and mental approach to the game. He refers to his “journey” toward playing at a more consistent level.

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But with every game comes new challenges, such as going up against Raiders Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby on New Years Day.

“Just because I played well last week or the 15 weeks prior, doesn’t mean that things happen the way you want them to happen every week,” McGlinchey said. “You got to go earn it every single time -- got to keep improving.”

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