The San Francisco 49ers enjoyed significant production out of its rookie class for a second straight season. ESPN took notice, naming both Mike McGlinchey and Richie James Jr. to its 2018 All-Rookie team. Two additional members of the 49ers were also named as honorable mentions. Here’s a look at what ESPN said regarding San Francisco’s standout first-year players.
The recognition continues to roll in for McGlinchey, who was as advertised throughout his rookie campaign. San Francisco’s first-round pick started all 16 games and finished the year as Pro Football Focus' highest-graded rookie tackle (73.2 overall grade) and the second-highest-graded rookie offensive lineman behind Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson (74.9).
ESPN highlighted that McGlinchey “plays with efficiency and power.” The rookie tackle registered just three penalties the entire season, two of which were false starts. McGlinchey also did not record a single holding call in 2018.
James served as both a kick and punt returner for San Francisco. The highlight of his season came in Week 15 when James returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the 49ers Week 15 win over the Seattle Seahawks. San Francisco’s seventh-round pick averaged 25.2 yards per kick return in 2018.
ESPN noted James’ versatility as the reason he was chosen over Kansas City Chiefs return man Tremon Smith. It is also important to note that James was the only late-round pick (sixth round or later) to make ESPN’s All-rookie team aside from Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders (also a seventh-round pick) and Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (UDFA).
Fred Warner and D.J. Reed Jr. were recognized as honorable mentions on ESPN’s list. Warner led the 49ers with 124 total tackles in 2018, the third most of any rookie, and totaled a team-high 1,060 snaps on defense. Reed Jr. saw snaps at both cornerback and free safety. Through 15 games and two starts, Reed Jr. racked up 41 tackles, a forced fumble and one sack.