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This 49ers Player Has Surprised and Impressed So Far

As we approach Week Eight, there have been many bright spots for the 49ers. However, one player has stood out on the offense that needs recognition. The player I am referring to is left guard, Aaron Banks. 

How The 49ers Replaced Guard, Laken Tomlinson

Laken Tomlinson chose to sign with the New York Jets in free agency, leaving a massive hole at the left guard position for the 49ers. All off-season fans questioned how the 49ers would fix the offensive line. The only returning starters were Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey from the 2021 line. Alex Mack retired late in the process as well. This left question marks along the interior of the offensive line.

It was a head-scratcher when San Francisco selected Banks in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Some fans were outraged because the team needed cornerback depth and missed on Asante Samuel Jr., who has become a solid player for the Los Angeles Chargers. In hindsight, the organization made the right pick knowing they could lose Tomlinson at the end of the season.

Was Aaron Banks The Right Pick?

I’ll be honest, I ripped the 49ers for this selection and it looks like I was completely wrong. San Francisco held the 43rd overall pick and was primed to take Samuel Jr. or Azeez Ojulari, who ended up with the New York Giants. People told me to let Banks develop and I chose not to listen. 

Kyle Shanahan’s run game needs athletic linemen who can get in space on the outside zone stretches and tosses. This allows the running back to choose which hole to cut and accelerate through. At Notre Dame, Banks was known for his power and size. However, changing his body and adding a quick first step to his game is evidence that a player can mold into a certain scheme.

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How did the former Notre Dame player go from a potential bust to arguably the best player on the offensive line this season? 49ers left tackle Trent Williams and teammates said they loved how Banks reshaped his 325-pound frame. Additionally, Banks credited his improved muscle mass and decreased body fat to this offseason’s work at the 49ers facility with their strength coaches.

“I’ve kind of transformed my body,” Banks said. 

Banks’ Breakout Against The Chiefs

Let’s discuss his performance against the Kansas City Chiefs. The 49ers did not have a good game. But Banks was a bright spot and showed signs of progression. On fifty-five pass-blocking plays, Banks did not allow a single pressure, hit, or sack. Per Pro Football Focus, he was the eighth highest-rated player in the NFL at 91.5. A huge accomplishment for the young guard. Banks is also the 16th overall ranked guard per PFF for the 2022 season thus far.

#49ers Aaron Banks was the 8th highest-graded player in the NFL with a 91.5 grade vs Chiefs (via @PFF) — 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙎𝙁𝙉𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨 (@TheSFNiners) October 25, 2022

Banks vs. Donald

The 49ers are now 3-4 and need a win against the Rams. With Aaron Donald looming and the Rams needing a win as well, we can expect a close game. Banks will have reps against the future Hall of Famer in Donald.

In their first matchup this year, Banks had solid reps versus Donald. Los Angeles loves to mix up their defensive line rotations. While Banks and Donald won’t battle the entire game, I imagine they will have some one-on-one matchups in the passing game. One big question I have going forward is, can Banks consistently play close to the level he is at now?

49ers Aaron Banks vs Aaron Donald — Brad (@Graham_SFN) October 5, 2022

It looks like the 49ers potentially got a steal in the second round last year. Banks needs to play consistent football and continue to anchor the left side with Trent Williams.



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