Guard Aaron Banks is joining the 49ers’ offensive line fortress and ready to protect any and all quarterbacks, be it incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo and top draft pick Trey Lance.
Banks, an El Cerrito High School product from Alameda, was the 49ers’ second-round draft pick Friday night.
“I add a big body to the offensive line that plays big, plays with a lot of physicality, likes to hit people and knock people down,” Banks said on a video conference with reporters. “This isn’t a game a lot of people want to play, so I bring that kind of edge to the offensive line.”
Other than blocking for one of the most dominant and diverse rushing attacks in the league, Banks is looking forward to protecting the 49ers’ cherished passer, whether it’s the incumbent, Garoppolo, or Thursday’s first-round pick, Lance.
“They’re both great quarterbacks. I’m going to protect whoever’s behind me,” Banks said. “I’ll put my body on the line to keep them safe.”
#49ers 2021 starting offense:
WR3?: Benjamin, James, Hurd, Sherfield, Sanu, Cracraft, White, Jennings
TE2?: Dwelley, Woerner
— Cam Inman (@CamInman) May 1, 2021
As such a high draft pick — the 49ers’ highest on a guard since first-rounder Joshua Garnett in 2016 — the 49ers might immediately plug the All-American left guard into the starting lineup between vets Trent Williams and Alex Mack.
Or Banks could solve the problematic spot at right guard, to which he said: “That conversation hasn’t happened but that won’t be a difficult switch. I’ve taken a ton of reps at right guard.”
Laken Tomlinson, the starting left guard since 2017, is entering his fifth season with the 49ers, at a hefty $4.5 million salary that ranks fourth-highest on the team.
The 49ers drafted Banks 48th overall after trading down five spots with the Raiders — believed to be the franchises’ first trade with each other in 25 years. The 49ers added a fourth-round selection (No. 121) while giving up their lone remaining seventh-rounder (No. 230).
“It is insane,” Banks said of staying in the Bay Area. “It’s funny because all of my high school coaches are here and everyone is a 49er fan and wearing gear. They point to the TV. The place erupted and it was insane. This is the best moment of my life.”
Banks prepared for his Southern California-based draft party in pure offensive lineman fashion: he put pork shoulder on the smoker. He’s hasn’t been in the Bay Area since last January before the pandemic, and he looks forward to reuniting with Najee Harris, an Antioch High School running back who got drafted Thursday by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Adding a rookie into the 49ers’ competition, if not the starting lineup, makes sense amid the veteran presence of Williams at left tackle and Mack at center, both of whom inked deals in March.
Banks (6-foot-5, 325 pounds) was a 2017 redshirt in McGlinchey’s final season at Notre Dame. Now McGlinchey is going on his fourth year, with promises of a 2022 option being exercised.
Banksy!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s go brother! Welcome to the club @bigaaronbanks
— Mike McGlinchey (@mmcglinch68) May 1, 2021
Mack’s arrival solidified the center spot, but right guard has been a lingering issue, and the 49ers pre-draft options included last year’s trio of Daniel Brunskill, Colton McKivitz and Tom Compton, the latter of whom re-signed this week.
Before the 49ers originally were to draft at No. 43, the Miami Dolphins traded up from No. 50 and selected Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg. The 49ers’ deal with the Raiders promptly followed, and Vegas took safety Travis Moehrig.
One pick before the 49ers selected, the Chargers took cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., at No. 47. The five selections after the 49ers’ took Banks: wide receiver Rondale Moore (Cardinals), defensive end Azeez Ojulari (Giants), offensive tackle Sam Cosmi (Washington), linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Browns), and offensive tackle Dillon Radunz (Titans).
Having used Thursday night’s first-round pick on Lance, the 49ers have seven picks remaining, including a third-round selection (No. 102). A third-round pick (No. 74) was sent to Washington in last year’s trade for left tackle Trent Williams.
Saturday’s selections: fourth round (Nos. 117, 121), fifth (Nos. 155, 172, 180) and sixth (No. 194).