San Francisco Chronicle
Pork roll beefs up 49ers’ McGlinchey
East Coast snack helps lineman add weight after subpar season
What is pork roll? Posed that question Saturday, Mike McGlinchey, a native of suburban Philadelphia, was having trouble describing the East Coast creation to his audience of Bay Area reporters.
“It goes back and forth,” the 49ers right tackle began, “between being called pork roll and Taylor Ham.”
That wasn’t helpful. The followup question: Is it like a cheesesteak?
“No. No. It’s more of like — I want to say a tangy ham, but it’s hard to describe,” McGlinchey said. “It’s just a big processed — it’s like a 6pound differenttypeofflavored hot dog.”
The question the reader might have at the moment: Why is this relevant? Well, the pork roll backandforth was part of a larger discussion about McGlinchey’s addweight offseason program. And that program called for McGlinchey to eat something every two to three hours and provided leeway when it came to what he put in his body. In other words: multiple pork rolls in one sitting!
“Not having to worry about just eating one of those is definitely a good thing,” McGlinchey said.
McGlinchey, 26, gained 25 pounds in the offseason. He did so after an overall bad performance as a pass blocker last year, when he weighed around 290 pounds — light by NFL offensivetackle standards. At 290, McGlinchey excelled as a run blocker in a zoneread scheme that requires athleticism from linemen, but he was too often bullied in pass protection, with some of his worst snaps coming in big moments.
To be clear: McGlinchey didn’t reach 315 pounds by strictly inhaling heartattackwaitingtohappen food. His program was heavy on weightroom work, with 49ers strength coach Dustin Perry and shakes and nonporkroll meals that were part of a plan provided by team dietician Jordan Mazur. The hope is that more weight will mean fewer snaps in which McGlinchey will be pushed by around by pass rushers. McGlinchey, who is 6foot8, indicated his lack of heft impacted his approach in 2020: He was so conscious of bracing for an aggressive rush that it led to poor technique.
“Obviously, some things happened (last year) where I was guarding too much (against) a bull rush,” McGlinchey said. “Even if I wasn't getting bulled, I was stopping my feet too much in preparation for the bull. It’s just something that’s given me a little bit more mental confidence. … So on top of the body weight, it’s more technique than anything. That extra body weight just gives you an extra chance to recover.”
As he added weight, McGlinchey also worked to shed the mental baggage that he says compounded his problems last year, when he dealt with his first significant athletic failure.
The No. 9 pick in 2018, McGlinchey was an AllAmerican and twotime team captain at Notre Dame who appeared poised to reach a Pro Bowl level in 2020. Instead, he spent much of his periodic Zoom interviews with reporters being asked variations of the same question: What’s wrong?
“I think the most frustrating part of my season last year was how I handled it mentally,” McGlinchey said. “I don’t think I did my job in that regard. I didn’t let myself overcome mistakes, I didn’t let myself overcome the trials and tribulations of what we were going through as a team. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and it got in the way of me being able to do my job at a high level. … That was a big focal point this offseason. I had to get my head right.”
McGlinchey met once a week with Derin McMains, a mental conditioning coach who was a minorleague player and coach in the Giants organization. McMains has worked for the Giants and Mariners and consulted with the Diamondbacks. He was the director of mental conditioning at Notre Dame for a year when McGlinchey was in college.
“He’s done an unbelievable job helping me find perspective,” McGlinchey said. “Find focus. Find where things go. Everyone always tells you the thing that separates you is your mind when you get to this level. But you don’t believe them until things get hard.”
It was even harder for McGlinchey, he said, because he and his teammates spent the last month of the season in isolation in their hotel in Glendale, Ariz. It was also his first season without his mentor, Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley, who was his closest friend on the team. For Staley’s part, he excelled late in his career while weighing under 300 pounds, and he’s dropped about 50 pounds since leaving the NFL.
“One day, I hope to look like Joe Staley in retirement,” McGlinchey said. “But those days are hopefully a long way away.”