Robert Franklin-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Franklin-USA TODAY Sports

Bay Area product Aaron Banks calls getting picked by 49ers ‘best moment’ of his life

Apr 30, 2021 at 6:46 PM--

After spending his college days more than halfway across the country in South Bend, Indiana, offensive lineman Aaron Banks sounds more than happy to be returning home to start his career in the NFL.

Banks, who is a product of Alameda, California, where he played his high school ball at El Cerrito High School, will be coming back to the Bay Area after being selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Not surprisingly, his reaction as well as the reaction of those around him was one of sheer elation when the 49ers announced the news.

"It is insane," Banks told reporters after being drafted on Friday. "It's funny because all my high school coaches are here and every single one of them (are) 49ers fans through and through, wearing their 49er gear. I got the call... the place just erupted. It was insane. It was the best moment of my life, by far."

The 49ers had shown interest in Banks during the draft process but didn't give him any hints of how interested they were until they made him their second-round pick. Banks called his predraft interactions with the 49ers "pretty standard," saying they didn't give him any inclination they wanted to bring him aboard.

"They held their cards pretty close to the chest," Banks said.

Now that he's a member of the 49ers, Banks is ready to jump right in and get started. He'll be joining a friend and former college teammate in 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey and will also be coming to a team that aims to establish a dominant running game, which he very much looks forward to.

"I love running the ball. I think that if you can run the ball, you can win games," Banks said. "To come to a program that prioritizes that and possibly having a chance to play next to somebody that went to the same college and I've known for years now, played a year with him, and I know his mentality, I know how he goes about his day, I know how he's going to come and compete and play physical. I couldn't ask for a better situation."

Banks is capable of playing at a number of spots across the offensive line but projects as a guard in San Francisco. He's big for a guard at 6-6, 330, which leads to a question of whether or not the 49ers might want him to slim down some to fit into their zone blocking scheme. Banks says he's ready for whatever the 49ers throw at him in the weeks and months ahead.

"It doesn't matter what scheme we're running -- whatever the team wants me to weigh, whatever scheme we're running, I'm going to take that and run with it," Banks said. "If they tell me to do something, I'm going to do it. As far as some people saying I'm a scheme-specific guy, it doesn't matter what you're running. We ran a lot of zone at Notre Dame. We ran outside zone, mid-zone, tight zone, doesn't matter. Whatever you tell me to do, I'm going to do it."

Chances are Banks' best chance of seeing the field as a rookie will be at right guard, where the starting spot is unsettled. Banks played a lot at left guard in college but sees no problem in having to make the switch.

"That conversation hasn't happened, but that won't be a difficult switch. I've taken a ton of reps at right guard," Banks said.

Banks is expected to eventually be blocking for quarterback Trey Lance, who joins him in the 49ers' 2021 draft class as the team's first-round pick. It might not happen right away, but whoever is at quarterback for the 49ers this season, whether it's Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo, Banks wants them to know he'll have their back.

"I think they're both great quarterbacks. But it doesn't matter who is behind me," Banks said. "I'm going to protect whoever is behind me and put myself and my body on the line to protect him and keep him safe."

Banks says 49ers fans can expect someone who brings some punishment to opponents and will be able to adapt quickly to whatever comes his way.

"I think I am a big physical guard who does really well in protection," Banks said. "I think I bring a physicality that teams strive for on the offensive line and I'm ready to come in and learn the playbook. I don't think putting a lot on my plate is a problem at all. I think I'm going to take it and do really well."

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