49ers training camp Week 1 rookie recap: Trey Lance era begins
Day two picks with more to prove on the 49ers
Aaron Banks, OG, Notre Dame
The selection of Aaron Banks in the second round didn’t seem like a sexy pick at the time, but he was expected to fill a big need for the 49ers, and after trading down several picks, John Lynch still got his man in the imposing Notre Dame interior lineman. While many expect him to push Daniel Brunskill to start in between Mike McGlinchey and new 49er Alex Mack, Banks exclusively ran with the second team the first week in camp.
Banks weighed as high as 338 pounds in the lead-up to the draft, but he looks slimmer now. On the third day of practice, Banks came out to pump up the crowd with some dance moves and showed off his noticeably more svelte physique, claiming and looking to be 315.
While Banks gave some flashes of why he climbed the 49ers draft board, he endured his share of rookie struggles in one-on-one drills and seemed to get overwhelmed by the power of the waves of depth of interior 49er defensive linemen. From what I’ve heard, the 49ers will be in pads on Tuesday, so I expect Banks to rebound when he knows he can use his trademark strength and tenacity more effectively.
Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
For all the noise around Sermon as a “power back,” make no mistake about it: Sermon is uniquely suited for Shanahan’s outside zone scheme. Sermon looked great in week one, platooning with presumptive starter Raheem Mostert with the first-team offense.
Quick out of his cuts, and hitting holes decisively, Sermon looks like another Bobby Turner-coached gem for the 49ers. Without pads, it was difficult to gauge Sermon’s effectiveness in pass protection, but he stood out as a dependable receiver when the pocket broke down for Jimmy G.
It’s early, but right now he’s getting the lion’s share of first-team reps. Although Shanahan has shown he likes to operate a running back committee, he’s not afraid to feed the hot hand. If Mostert is sidelined for any reason this month, it appears that the RB1 job is Sermon’s to lose.
Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan
Ambry Thomas was another draft pick that raised some eyebrows in April, but that was primarily because he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID. Although Emmanuel Moseley was signed to a two-year contract in the offseason, Thomas was drafted as a ball-hawking outside corner to compete with Moseley sooner than later.
Of all the 49ers rookies, Thomas performed the most like a rookie in week one of camp during 11-on-11 drills. Thomas ran with the second and third-team defenses and often seemed to get lost in coverage, gambling on several plays that resulted in big gains for the offense. Whether or not a year off of football is the reason, Thomas has some ground to gain when he dons the pads next week.
However, Thomas looked right at home as a returner in special teams simulations. He also showed the sticky hands he was known for at Michigan in DB drills. I’m eager to see how he rebounds at corner, but as a third-round pick, Thomas is a lock for the roster. Expect to see him as an early contributor as a returner in the preseason, and to lock down that job before the season opener in Detroit.