49ers reason No. 3: Aaron Banks is the heir apparent to Laken Tomlinson
Look, Aaron Banks’ rookie season was not good.
The 49ers gave their second-round pick every chance to win the starting right guard spot over Daniel Brunskill during 2021 training camp and the preseason, yet Banks ended up losing that competition and also suffered a notable setback with a shoulder injury prior to Week 1.
As such, Banks ended up being inactive for nearly half the year and only saw five offensive snaps.
An important caveat, though, is the fact Banks spent nearly his entire collegiate career at Notre Dame playing left guard, and switching from the left side to the right of an offensive line isn’t as simple as making an adjustment in a Madden video game. The muscle memory is entirely different, the asks are different. It’s much more complex than it seems, and adjusting from the college ranks to the pros is already a large challenge in itself.
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The Niners would be foolish to give up on Banks already. And if they truly do like his progression over the course of the year, even if fans hardly saw any of it on the field during game days, it’s highly possible they’re already planning on him taking over for Laken Tomlinson in 2022.
This is essentially any team’s contingency plan for replacing an aging player who’ll end up costing too much: find a worthwhile option in the NFL Draft who can fill the void on the cheap.
Perhaps that’s what San Francisco is planning on doing with Banks, and it could be the biggest reason why Tomlinson walks in NFL free agency.