Why the pressure is on for Aaron Banks to ‘swim,’ not sink
General manager John Lynch’s comments on Aaron Banks earlier this offseason suggest San Francisco is comfortable with the interior lineman taking a big leap in year two:
"I think there’s this narrative that because Aaron didn’t play, there must be something wrong with him. Quite the contrary. I think he really grew. He really reshaped his body, and we’re really excited about getting him out there and letting him compete."
With Tomlinson now out of the picture, Banks is virtually being handed the left guard starting job, arguably the only competition being so-so reserve linemen such as Colton McKivitz, Justin Skule and Jaylon Moore.
The 49ers did, however, grab two other linemen via the draft this year, Spencer Burford and Nick Zakelj, suggesting they’re entertaining contingency plans in case Banks continues to struggle.
However, considering both Burford and Zakelj were day-three picks and not high-profile selections, there is a notion of confidence in Banks. Same thing with the Niners electing to let Laken Tomlinson walk and, at least from the sounds of it, not even making a serious effort to re-sign him.
Of course, this could be San Francisco proverbially taking that “leap of faith,” transitioning from Tomlinson to Banks with the understanding of why getting younger and cheaper is a necessity at the risk of the replacement player not always working out.
In Banks’ case, he’ll have to justify the 49ers’ investment in him last year. There aren’t any other preferable options.