© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey and returner Richie James Jr. have been named to ESPN’s All-Rookie team. They were San Francisco’s lone representatives of the 26 rookies included.
The 49ers were one of four teams with at least two representatives. The Colts led the league with three, featuring first-team All-Pros Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard, whom ESPN named its Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The only additional 49ers rookie you could argue should be included is middle linebacker Fred Warner, who comfortably led the team in tackles (124) and usage (played 98.8 percent of defensive snaps). But that argument’s hard to justify considering the other standout linebackers on the list: Leonard, Roquan Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch.
McGlinchey’s inclusion comes as no surprise. The 49ers’ first-round pick was a day-one starter and proved he could succeed against many of the NFL’s top edge rushers, whether Von Miller, Melvin Ingram, or Khalil Mack. McGlinchey earned Pro Football Focus’ third-best run-blocking grade for all offensive tackles. A ridiculous stat: none of McGlinchey’s three penalties in 2018 were for holding.
James was more of a surprise. He contributed just nine catches for 130 yards and one touchdown in the passing game. But the 49ers’ seventh-round pick was the only NFC player to return a kickoff for a touchdown this past season. He averaged 25.2 yards per kickoff return, the seventh-best mark in the NFL.