Winner: Offensive guard Aaron Banks
San Francisco elected to let veteran Pro Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson walk in NFL free agency, and it’s not likely the 49ers would have been able to compete with the three-year, $40 million deal the New York Jets awarded him.
Had Tomlinson re-signed, however, it would have been awfully bad news for second-year guard Aaron Banks, the Niners’ Round 2 NFL Draft pick from a year ago who flopped in the preseason, found himself inactive for a massive chunk of the regular season and saw a mere five offensive snaps over the course of the year.
Perhaps San Francisco was planning for this, though, letting Banks sit for a year with the intent of making him a starter in year two.
Or, just as possibly, Banks has to be the contingency fallback option for the 49ers, who’ll have little other choice but to start him at left guard in 2022.
Either way, Banks is now granted a golden opportunity to finally live up to the investment the Niners made in him a year ago.