Aaron Banks' maturation, improvement in Year 2 is fun to watch – Niner Noise

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After plenty of scrutiny a year ago, 49ers offensive guard Aaron Banks is beginning to turn some heads over two games into the 2022 season.

It was easy to criticize the San Francisco 49ers’ Round 2 NFL Draft selection of then-rookie guard Aaron Banks for the bulk of 2021 and into the following offseason.

Heck, we even wondered if Banks was trending towards being a bust after failing to seize the starting right guard spot and seeing a mere five offensive snaps his first year after the Niners grabbed him out of Notre Dame.

Turns out, many of us critics needed to just give Banks some time.

Sure, Banks and the rest of San Francisco’s squad have played a mere two games this season, and there’s a long way to go before we can conclude the 49ers made a wise choice in drafting him back in 2021.

However, the results over those two games have been excellent for the 6-foot-5, 325-pound lineman.

 

Aaron Banks hasn’t allowed a sack over 2 games played for 49ers

During training camp, it was fair to question whether or not the Niners would receive a drastic fall in production after losing Pro Bowl left guard Laken Tomlinson in NFL free agency and subsequently slotting in Banks to replace him.

Particularly in pass protection, which wasn’t assumed to be Banks’ primary strong suit.

As things have turned out over two weeks, Banks is actually performing quite well in this regard, not yet having allowed a sack and surrendering a mere three quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

In fact, PFF’s 75.5 overall grade for Banks is actually tied for seventh best among all qualifying guards through two weeks.

Impressive.

And while Banks might not have flashed as much PFF cred in run support, his 69.4 run-blocking grade is still well above average, meaning San Francisco hasn’t experienced quite the drop it might have expected.

Read More: Niners getting surprisingly good play from Aaron Banks, Spencer Burford

Along with rookie right guard Spencer Burford, the 49ers have actually received notably impressive play from the interior of their offensive line thus far.

 

49ers justified moving on from Laken Tomlinson to Aaron Banks

Tomlinson was one of the figurehead players many felt the Niners could ill-afford to let walk in free agency during the offseason, yet San Francisco certainly wasn’t going to be able to match the three-year, $40 million contract dished out by his new team, the New York Jets.

Perhaps the 49ers understood this long before Banks was even drafted, effectively sitting him on the bench his rookie year as a contingency plan once Tomlinson eventually walked.

And while Banks has flashed on the right side early in his first full year as a starter, Tomlinson has otherwise underwhelmed with his new team, posting a substandard 44.5 overall grade from PFF.

In the interest of getting both younger and cheaper, not only have the Niners done so by letting Tomlinson walk, but they’re also not missing the quality level of production with Banks serving as Tomlinson’s de facto replacement.

As such, it’ll certainly be fun to watch if Banks is able to continue his upward trend over the rest of 2022.




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