NFL Draft: 3 offensive guards 49ers watch if Aaron Banks goes bust

Aaron Banks #65 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Aaron Banks #65 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Ikem Ekwonu, NC State Wolfpack
North Carolina State Wolfpack tackle Ikem Ekwonu (79) Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers NFL Draft Target No. 1: Ikem Ekwonu, NC State

There’s always the chance San Francisco uses its first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to address its offensive line concerns, and focusing on the trenches first and foremost is never a bad strategy. Even for a team that has a lot of pieces in place.

This would mean a likely Round 2 targeting of the final player on this list, North Carolina State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu, who has spent the last two years for the Wolfpack playing tackle but projects better as an interior lineman at the NFL level.

There’s no comparison when viewing Ekwonu’s tenacity on the field, and he’d easily help give the inside of the 49ers O-line some toughness, which would be a boost for a unit having to play Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald twice a year.

On top of that, the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Ekwonu is an exceptional run blocker and can win with both power and movement skills, traits that would make him a fit in a zone-style offense without sacrificing anything on man-gap interior assignments.

Ekwonu won’t last too long in the draft, though, and the Niners may have to consider trading up to get him in Round 2 depending on what the order winds up being once the season is over.

Even so, Ekwonu is a player who’d be worth that kind of aggressive move.

Next. 49ers 2022 mock NFL Draft, trade-deadline edition. dark