It was a disappointing rookie season for 49ers 2021 second-round draft pick Aaron Banks. The Notre Dame product was a healthy scratch for the first part of the season before eventually working his way into a special teams role. His improvement is one of the team’s biggest keys in 2022, and it sounds like he’s moving in the right direction.
49ers offensive line coach Chris Foerster told the Athletic that Banks is putting together a good offseason. It appears, at least at this early stage, that he’s the frontrunner for the starting left guard spot.
“That’s where our strength and conditioning people have done a phenomenal job of just remaking that 330 pounds,” Foerster told the Athletic. “And so yes, his conditioning, his strength, have improved. … He has the ability to maintain, to play faster, to play harder, because he’s in better shape.”
With left guard Laken Tomlinson’s exit in free agency, there’s a hole on the left side of the offensive line. Banks spent three years at Notre Dame where he played in 38 games across four years and started all of his final 31 contests at left guard.
There was some speculation after last year’s draft that he’d be the starting right guard as a rookie, but an injury in camp derailed him early and he was never able to catch up.
Foerster said Banks is working at his natural position this offseason, which may help catalyze his jump into the starting lineup.
Getting Banks to play at a high level would be a significant development for San Francisco since they don’t have any real answers along their offensive line. They need to figure out both starting guard spots and they made need to replace center Alex Mack.
If Banks steps in and plays at the level the 49ers believed he can reach when they took him No. 48 overall in 2021, they’ll shore up one side of their offensive line and maximize the level of competition for the starting guard spot on the other side.
2022 is all about first-time starting quarterback Trey Lance, but his success will tie directly to how well his offensive front plays, and Banks has a chance to make a massive impact there.