They don’t run with the ball, catch it, score touchdowns or dance (very often) in the end zone.
Yet offensive tackles in the NFL are among the most important players on the field.
A good left tackle protects the blind side of most quarterbacks (right-handed passers), and the right tackle is almost as important. A passing game goes nowhere with a quarterback flat on his back, after all.
A couple of years ago, Cameron DaSilva of Fox Sports rated offensive tackle as the third-most important position on the field, behind quarterback and pass rusher, noting that the position has grown in importance with “the number of dynamic and freakishly athletic defensive ends.” And, when it comes to pay scale, tackles’ paychecks weigh almost as much as they do.
The 49ers had a strong twosome in 2019, with Joe Staley on the left side and Mike McGlinchey on the right. Now, with the retirement of Staley, the Niners have replaced him with perennial Pro Bowler Trent Williams, meaning they go into 2020 again with a dynamic duo.
How good will Williams and McGlinchey be in 2020? Ben Linsey of the analytic website Pro Football Focus ranks the twosome as No. 6 in the league – with an asterisk.
Writes Linsey: “The new-look duo in San Francisco has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL, but there are some questions surrounding Williams and McGlinchey. What will Williams look like after several injuries and an entire year away from football in 2020? Will he come out right away and look like the elite left tackle he has been for nearly his entire career?
“As for McGlinchey, can he build on his improvement as a pass blocker from 2018 to 2019? And can he consistently dominate in the run game, which he proved capable of early on as a rookie and in this past postseason?
“The talent is there for this to be a top-tier tackle duo, and they were close to cracking the top five on this list, but there is reason to be hesitant with some questions surrounding Williams and McGlinchey.”
Certainly, the 49ers have been willing to spend to have quality tackles. According to Sportrac, Williams will receive about $12.5 million for this final year of his contract. McGlinchey, signed through 2021, will get just over $5 million.