Santa Clara: Mike McGlinchey was “in high spirits” as he welcomed a long-lost group of reporters to their new spot in the 49ers locker room.
This was shortly after Friday night’s inaugural preseason victory, and two long seasons since the media had access to the realm of gamers.
“It brings a little life to the building and creates a little more excitement in the locker room,” said mcglinchey, a veteran right tackle and always gracious spokesman. “We have to relearn our etiquette a bit, without so much free rein here at the moment.
“it’s good to see them, to leave behind all that crap from the last two or three years.”
Health precautions amid the covid pandemic closed the nfl locker room to the media once the 2019 49ers returned from their super bowl loss. Friday night marked the grand reopening of his locker room, though any accompanying “fanfare” came in the form of happy quotes about their 28-21 win over the Green Bay Packers.
at 8:56 p.m. m., we were back in the 49ers locker room for the first time since their 2019 team packed up 3 days after the super bowl live
“good to see you, to put all that crap from the last two or three years behind you” – mike mcglinchey on covid protocols & media ban pic.twitter.com/pmjlbihtje
– cam inman (@caminman) August 13, 2022
Why is access to changing rooms important? because face-to-face interaction with players leads to more understanding to share with fans and the general public. It’s not like reporters are clamoring to see players get dressed or ask for memorabilia like autographs.
Speaking of memories, rookie quarterback brock purdy was at his locker when he showed off the ball he threw for his first professional touchdown – the game-winning touchdown to tanner hudson. Turns out Trey Lance chased that ball once Hudson threw it, and Purdy is eternally grateful, saying of Lance, “I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re literally the best.’ He’s humble. I look up to that guy a lot.”
purdy probably wouldn’t have brought that football into a zoom room or onto the media podium, or shared that anecdote about how admirable a lance he is.
the 49ers last opened their locker room to the media three days after losing the lombardi trophy in february 2020. next season it was limited to press conferences via zoom video sessions and, last season, the players were available at post-game podiums with the media. forced to wear masks.
At 8:56 p.m. Friday, reporters walked through those red doors emblazoned with the 49ers logo and into the locker room, where the smell of victory mingled with the sweat and grass stains of the heady 49ers cologne. football.
mcglinchey’s locker may have been in a new location for reporters, but he shared a secret: he moved to that quiet corner of the locker room two seasons ago.
as for his old locker across the room, isn’t that where lance is now? “Yeah. Good memory,” McGlinchey said.
lance is intentionally wedged between jimmie ward and jason verrett, the 49ers’ smartest defensive backs and quiet leaders.
And what happened to the excavations of Lance’s predecessor, Jimmy Garoppolo? he still has his same locker, although no personal artifacts remain in it other than a helmet, shoulder pads, team jerseys, and a bottle of lotion. Garoppolo sat out the first two weeks of camp while he awaited a trade or release before the regular season begins; he is not practicing and was not seen on the 49ers bench on Friday night.
garoppolo’s neighboring locker is defensive tackle hassan ridgeway. in 2019, he was a guard mike person. Across the way is still George Kittle’s locker, and he’s one of the few players in his own locker since that season’s Super Bowl.
fred warner, still holed up in his spot in the middle of the row, expressed his surprise at seeing the reporters and said, “i forgot you were all allowed to come back here.”
Others have changed places, like mcglinchey to deforest buckner’s old locker, wide receiver deebo samuel at the entrance, and sophomore guard aaron banks to a safe haven away from the stray basketballs still getting shot at. in a close hoop.
There isn’t a ping-pong table like there was before Coach Kyle Shanahan arrived in 2017. However, there are still games to stay competitive. None were on display on Friday (the actual “game” day, after all), but the players did talk about a game of green and also a chessboard, which has apparently been run by Arik Armstead, Josh Hokit and Nate Sudfeld. . last year we saw a variety of cornhole boards; Offensive linemen Trent Williams, Colton McKivitz and Jake Brendel are quite successful, Banks said.
Music from a wall-mounted jukebox played after this win, prompting wide receiver Jauan Jennings to sing and dance, as expected.
family signs remain on the walls amid the walnut-fronted lockers.
there is still one that proclaims the three team rules: 1.) protect the team; 2.) no complaints, no excuses; 3.) be on time.
new signage is sprinkled in other corners: “do what’s right longer”, “protect & attack”, “how you do something is how you do enough”.
“Top notch,” rookie guard Spencer Burford said of his new surroundings.
burford sat alone at his locker cutting the tape around his ankles when he approached him to review his pro debut. As he cut the ribbon and kicked off his shoes, he savored everything about the post-game life of an NFL player. he also made an impressive debut, starting at right guard and playing into the second half.
“It was everything you dreamed of and a little bit more,” said Burford, a product of Texas-San Antonio and a fourth-round pick. “When you finally come out, there’s nerves and nervousness, especially being a rookie starting the first game. it was electrifying. I can’t complain.”
neither could purdy in the opposite corner of the locker room, who said, “just being out there, i was, ‘man, i’m in an nfl stadium, wearing the 49ers logo, the nfl logo nfl.” this is crazy. It’s everything I dreamed of.’”
well, almost everything. He probably didn’t dream of getting a swollen lip from quarterbacks coach Brian Griese as another side reward for the game-winning touchdown pass. “He hugged me so tight the water bottle cut my lip,” Purdy said. “It was fun and also a good atmosphere.”
Not all was good on the media access front. The NFL is cracking down on photographer access and absurdly limiting on-field credentials to just one via news per game with no full season passes. they apparently prefer the goofy aesthetics of a less populated countryside over terrific action shots and blown-up photos that tell 1,000-word stories.
But the locker room, and its narrower confines, are once again an open field.
The championship banners still hang from the upper walls. Obviously, there hasn’t been a need to update the whitish curtain that lists their five Super Bowl-winning seasons, but, get this, the 49ers haven’t updated the banners of their 2019 efforts to win the NFC Championship and NFC West.
in the hallway that leads to the entrance and exit of the locker room, the wallpaper is still the same since shanahan arrived. One wall displays an image of the 49ers five-piece Lombardi trophy collection. The other wall is a collage of franchise icons – Dwight Clark, Steve Young, Roger Craig, Joe Montana, Patrick Willis, Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice – with the reminder: “It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”
so is the life of the reporters who dare to enter, win or lose, looking not only for sound bites but for anecdotes and the personal relationship that was lost in the last two years.
“it’s good to see everyone back,” added mcglinchey, “and definitely exciting to see faces and not masks on the entire team here.”
click here if you are having trouble viewing photos on a mobile device
- 49ers at rams: keys to victory with christian mccaffrey instead of deebo samuel
- 49ers vs. rams: deebo samuel out, along with juszczyk, greenlaw
- mccaffrey ignores gore’s number. 21 to become the new world no. 23
- deebo samuel in limbo for 49ers at rams
- 49ers christian mccaffrey wants to win ‘for these guys, for the bay area’