Aaron Banks has been 49ers offense’s unsung hero

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) /

The 49ers head into their bye week poised to make a run at the playoffs, and guard Aaron Banks has been an underrated reason why.

The San Francisco 49ers may be only 4-4 heading into their bye week, but there’s some cautious optimism surrounding the team after trading for running back Christian McCaffrey, demolishing the Los Angeles Rams 31-14 and looking down a much shorter injury report post-bye.

Read More: 49ers studs and duds from strong Week 8 victory vs. Rams

Part of that optimism comes from encouraging play from two areas of concern in the preseason, the interior offensive line and safety.

Talanoa Hufanga has gotten all the plaudits as the most improved player of the Niners this season, and certainly justifiably so. The second-year safety has formed an unlikely but impressive partnership with journeyman Tashaun Gipson to the point that incumbent free safety Jimmie Ward may not even return to replace the latter now.

But on the offense, we’ve seen a similar growth from a second-year player in guard Aaron Banks, a player who couldn’t even see the field in his rookie year despite being a second-round selection that had people calling him a bust already.

Aaron Banks has made huge strides for 49ers in Year 2

San Francisco lost starting Pro Bowl left guard Laken Tomlinson to the New York Jets, and there weren’t any upgrades made at the position. The team made it clear that the job was for Banks, and he’s rewarded the team with a season that can be only described as impressive, per The Athletic’s David Lombardi:

One of the better run blockers in the game and someone who’s given up zero sacks in the entire year, Banks hasn’t gotten nearly the respect he should be getting given fans were willing to give up on him for not immediately playing in Week 1.

Read More: Aaron Banks’ improvement in Year 2 has been fun to watch

Banks has solidified what was considered a weakness along with his fellow interior linemen in center Jack Brendel and guards Daniel Brunskill and Spencer Burford. While the line hasn’t been as strong as it has been in recent seasons, it’s still strong overall and not the liability people feared.

Banks is proof that sometimes fans need just a tiny bit more patience to allow them to develop. Not everyone is a star overnight but if the Faithful are willing to wait, the rewards are more than worth it.

49ers' 15 best draft-day steals of all time. dark. Next