Aaron Banks describes “a lot of growth” from the 49ers’ rookie season to now

Aaron Banks describes “a lot of growth” from the 49ers’ rookie season to now

With the departure of Laken Tomlinson in free agency this offseason, the 49ers now need second-year guard Aaron Banks to fill the gap on offense.

And the 24-year-old seems up for the challenge.

Speaking to reporters Friday after practice at training camp, Banks detailed the progress he’s made since being drafted by San Francisco in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

“I think there’s been a lot of growth,” Banks said of his rookie season last year, which saw him field just five snaps in the regular season. “There was a lot of room to grow and I just came in every day and tried to get better and it’s still the same mindset.

“It didn’t go the way I had imagined. It didn’t go like a bunch of people probably thought it was going to go.”

The 49ers went over then-rookie Banks as right guard with Daniel Brunskill last season after he failed to win the starting job. Coach Kyle Shanahan previously said the team felt Banks was ready to start midway through the 2021 season, but then a winning streak kept Brunskill in position.

Banks took the perceived disappointment of his rookie season “with a grain of salt” and moved on, he said, joining OTAs as a new man this spring. He spent the offseason at the 49ers facility, working to transform his physique into one that fit San Francisco’s blocking scheme.

He is now 13 pounds lighter than the day he was drafted and moving back to left flank – where he played at Notre Dame – in Tomlinson’s absence has helped him feel more comfortable in his second season, said he.

“I just wanted to be a better player physically,” Banks said of his offseason conditioning. “I wanted to tone up and be stronger and fast, try to be faster overall. Just be a better athlete, be stronger.”

The 49ers’ offensive line is more active than most under Shanahan’s schedule, and that athleticism will come in handy as Banks prepares to contribute at the NFL level.

“The more you’re into it, the more comfortable you become with it,” Banks said of the program. “I think there are a lot of athletes in our space, guys who are not only big and can move people, but can actually move their own bodies in space.

“The more you’re into it, the better off you’ll be. I think this year will definitely be a better year for that.”

Banks is looking to line up alongside Trent Williams as part of the starting offensive, and he noted the All-Pro had given him tips and tricks to help him become a better player. In early June, Williams said Banks had “transformed” his body and applauded his mental toughness.

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That mentality has continued into training camp, where the guard continues to impress against top-level San Francisco defences.

And with Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season just over a month away, the 49ers can rest assured that Faithful are getting the best version of Banks yet.

“It’s really getting better every day,” Banks said. “Don’t take these days for granted.”

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