Mike McGlinchey probably felt as if he had no other choice but to play quarterback.
After all, it was the family way. And he had a terrific role model in his first cousin, Matt Ryan.
In 2008, McGlinchey attended the NFL draft along with his family at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Ryan was the No. 3 overall pick of the Atlanta Falcons. And Matt’s older brother, Michael, said something that got McGlinchey to start thinking about shifting his focus.
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“He knew I had that little pipe dream of playing quarterback,” McGlinchey said on The 49ers Insider Podcast of cousin Michael. “We met Jake Long, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft that year. He said, ‘If you do what you need to do, in 10 years, you’re going to look like that.’
“My cousin called the right shot. I put my hand in the dirt, and it worked out from there.”
Ten years later, the 49ers selected McGlinchey with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 draft after he started 39 games and was a team captain at Notre Dame. McGlinchey has appeared in 25 games with the 49ers, all as the team’s starting right tackle.
On Sunday, for the first time, McGlinchey, 24, and Ryan, 34, will be playing in the same game when the Falcons visit Levi’s Stadium.
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McGlinchey will be hosting a lot of the family, who will come to Santa Clara for what amounts to a family reunion. He comes from a football family that has produced more than a handful of college athletes, including four Division I players. McGlinchey is the only non-quarterback of the group.
“I’m excited for my family to come out and see everybody and hopefully get some bragging rights,” McGlinchey said.
McGlinchey did not always play offensive tackle. At William Penn Charter in Philadelphia, where Ryan also attended high school, McGlinchey did a little bit of everything, including playing tight end.
After Ryan already was in the NFL, during the annual family summer stay in North Wildwood, New Jersey, McGlinchey ran routes and caught passes from his famous cousin at Bill Henfey Park.
“I was his tight end for the day because I was in high school at the time,” McGlinchey said. “He was sailing balls over my head and I asked him what he was doing. And he was like, ‘That’s where Julio (Jones) goes up and gets it.’ And I said, ‘Well, OK, that’s not me.’”
McGlinchey credits Matt Ryan for setting the standard he would try to attain for himself. He watched him closely -- on and off the field -- when the family would attend Ryan’s games at Boston College.
“Matt helped me out, whether he knew he was or not,” McGlinchey said, “and it was by me being a little kid and watching him from afar, and adopting the way he talked to his teammates, the way you see him compete, the way you see him have fun on the field. That’s who I wanted to be. It turned out I was the offensive lineman instead of the quarterback, but I try to be that in my own way now that I’m a pro, as well.”
McGlinchey carries himself in a manner that impressed 49ers general manager John Lynch before the 2018 draft. Lynch later said that McGlinchey was one of the three most impressive prospects he interviewed that year. The others were safety Derwin James and running back Sony Michel.
Last week in Florida while the 49ers were preparing to face the New Orleans Saints, veteran left tackle Joe Staley referred to McGlinchey as “president” in front of a group of reporters. McGlinchey carries himself in a stately manner.
“I think it’s because of Matt,” McGlinchey said. “If you hear Matt talk, and you hear the way he talks to people and approaches people, I don’t know if there’s anybody better. He’s been that way for as long as I’ve been watching him. I can recall that kind of stuff happening and him interacting with people -- coaches, him and his dad talking to coaches, talking to fans -- when we were up at BC. I was in fourth or fifth grade at the time, and that stuck with me.
“Matt’s a hell of a leader. He’s a hell of a competitor ... I’ve always tried to emulate him from the time I was 9 years old watching him at BC”