By C.J. Peterson
Special to S.F. Examiner
SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers have spent a copious amount of time this offseason revamping their offensive line for the 2018 season.
The biggest move of the overhaul, though, came in picking Mike McGlinchey No. 9 overall in the 2018 NFL draft. Heading into Week 1 of the regular season, McGlinchey is preparing to make his official NFL debut and to raise the stakes even higher, he’ll be taking on one of the NFL’s most ferocious defenses in the Minnesota Vikings.
“I’m excited. I’m definitely very excited,” said McGlinchey before practice Wednesday afternoon. “Obviously Minnesota is an awesome team and they have been for a couple years now and I’m excited to play in that new stadium that I hear so much about. It’s why you play football.”
McGlinchey will have his hands full on Sunday when the 49ers take on the defending NFC North champions on their home turf. The Vikings, who are on the rebound from an NFC Championship game loss in January, will trot out what many believe to be one of the NFL’s best defenses as well as one of the league’s top five defensive lines.
Headlined by defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, who were credited with 20 of the team’s 37 sacks (13 and seven respectively), Minnesota’s defensive line gave opposing offenses headaches last season as the unit was able to create pressure on 31 percent of all passing plays. The Vikings’ defense ranked second in the NFL in both passing yards allowed per game (192.4) and rushing yards allowed per game (83.6 yards).
“I have elite pass rushers across from me and obviously Hunter and Everson Griffen are pretty damn good ones,” said McGlinchey. “So, in that regard, it’s going to be a challenge but I think I’ll stick to what I’ve always done.”
According to McGlinchey, his preparation for Sunday has not changed from what he did during his time at Notre Dame. While note taking and film study still are essential to the process, McGlinchey says who and what he looks at are equally important.
“I take more notes on the scheme and how we’re going to run our plays against them,” said McGlinchey. “In terms of pass rushers, I’ve found that the more I study an individual player to see what he’s going to do to me, the more I start overthinking it and get screwed up.”
Getting “screwed up” is the last thing the 49ers will need from McGlinchey on Sunday. After investing $137 million in starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo over the offseason, San Francisco will rely McGlinchey to be on top of every blocking assignments if they hope to keep the face of the franchise healthy for the duration of the season.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but I have high expectations for McGlinchey,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan, “That’s why we took him.”
McGlinchey has also had quite the mentor in left tackle Joe Staley, a 12-year veteran. In the opening press conference of training camp, Staley referred to McGlinchey jokingly as his best friend in the world, before more earnestly calling him his little brother. The All-Pro left tackle says McGlinchey is more than ready for Week 1.
“He’s good, man,” Staley said this week. “He’s so much further along than where I was when I was a rookie so I’m excited for him … The game’s not too big for him so he’s just ready to go, ready to prepare and ready to wear that face mask out there on the football field.”