Trent Williams confident 'transformed' Aaron Banks will excel on 49ers

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Williams confident 'transformed' Banks will excel on 49ers o-line originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers invested a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on the player who experienced what amounted to a redshirt season.

Nobody saw much of Banks as a rookie. He played just five snaps. The only second-round pick who played fewer snaps was Tampa Bay’s Kyle Trask, who spent the season as the No. 3 quarterback behind Tom Brady.

In his first training camp, Banks at times did not look like a good fit for the 49ers’ zone blocking scheme. At 6-foot-5, 338 pounds at the time he was drafted, Banks looked to be bigger and less explosive than other linemen who have thrived in the team’s system.

One year later, Banks appears ready to make his mark.

“He’s transformed himself in a few months,” 49ers All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams said on Tuesday. “To me, that’s indicative of a lot, not just a good diet and a good workout regimen. It’s mental toughness for a guy to go in and change his whole body composition in 90 days.”

Banks figures to be lining up next to Williams this season along the 49ers’ starting offensive line after veteran Laken Tomlinson signed a three-year, $40 million contract with the New York Jets.

Banks had a chance to win a starting job as a rookie at right guard, but the 49ers stayed with Daniel Brunskill in that spot. Coach Kyle Shanahan said after the season the 49ers were on the verge of making a midseason change before the club got hot and reeled off a few wins.

At that point, Shanahan decided not to make any major changes.

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Williams said he plans to continue to take an active role as a mentor for Banks, whom is being counted upon to step in and perform at a high level in his first season as the starter.

“Banks’ athleticism has always jumped off the boards,” Williams said. “To be the size of the man that he is, but now shedding 20 pounds, he definitely looks light on his feet and his footwork looks 10 times better, his balance, his upper-body lean, everything looks like it’s in place now.

“I think he’s ready to take that big jump from Year 1 to Year 2. And I’m here to help him.”

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