‘Joe is the best.’ 49ers rookie tackle Mike McGlinchey on learning from veteran Joe Staley
Rookie Mike McGlinchey can squat-lift 520 pounds, can throw a Hail Mary from 60 yards away and can sing the theme song to "Mulan."
It's the last skill that really seemed to impress the 49ers' longest tenured player, Joe Staley, who has been spontaneously belting out boy-band hits and Disney tunes — "Moana" has been a recent favorite — in the locker room for more than a decade.
The result: plenty of harmony on the 49ers' offensive line.
"They’re funny. It’s like two, giant 12-year-olds hanging out together," coach Kyle Shanahan said of the budding bro-mance. "… Joe is obviously the veteran, Mike is the new rookie and we’ve got a lot of guys in between those guys who fall right in with the group, too. I think we have a very close room in there."
After the 49ers drafted McGlinchey with the ninth overall selection, they skipped the superficial, he-has-to-earn-it phase many top picks go through and instantly installed him as their starting right tackle. After all, they chose him in large part because he's self-motivated and professional and doesn't require prodding.
He also has slid easily into the offensive-line group, which on some teams can be crusty and hierarchical. That hasn't been the case with the 49ers in recent years, mainly because of Staley, who sets the tone for the group and perhaps the entire locker room.
At 33 he's the second-oldest player on the team — kicker Robbie Gould has him by two years — and is nearly a decade older than McGlinchey. But he has a boyish personality, keeps everything light during the week, and more to the point, always has made sure the offensive line is one of the most welcoming and close-knit groups on the team.
After Jonathan Martin struggled with hazing and bullying with the Miami Dolphins, for example, the 49ers traded for him in 2014 and he had no similar issues in San Francisco. Martin immediately received a text from Staley upon arriving and said at the time he felt a "warm welcome" with his new squad.
Over the years, Staley has become close friends with fellow linemen like Adam Snyder, Zane Beadles and Daniel Kilgore. Now McGlinchey appears primed to become Staley's latest O-line bud.
The difference in this relationship is that he is nearly as outgoing as Staley — the duo recently was captured on social media singing a Backstreet Boys song at a karaoke bar; some dance moves were attempted, too — and that he is being groomed to eventually replace Staley at left tackle.
That was McGlinchey's path at Notre Dame: He spent his first two seasons there on the right side before shifting to left tackle to protect the quarterback's blind side. Staley, meanwhile, is signed for two more seasons.
Still, the veteran doesn't seem bothered that his duet mate might one day take over his spot. In fact, he cleared a space next to him in the offensive-line film room so that the rookie could get up to speed as fast as possible.
"It's nice to have somebody to bounce things off of, somebody to learn from, somebody to look up to," McGlinchey said this week. "It's really, really cool. I don't think many rookies get as lucky as I've been, coming in here and having the relationships that I already have. Especially with a guy like Joe who's been there and done that and who's had great success."
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who will be the beneficiary of having two former first-round picks at tackle this season, had a suggestion for his teammates.
"I think they need a TV show, personally," he said. "There's a good idea behind that."