SANTA CLARA -- One of the biggest questions for the 49ers heading into the 2022 season was the level of play by the interior of the offensive line. Through two games, second-year guard Aaron Banks has answered the bell solidly.
After only playing five offensive snaps in his rookie season, Banks has been on the field for every offensive play through two games, and coach Kyle Shanahan has been pleased.
Banks has only allowed three pressures in 144 plays, which has helped him record the highest PFF grade on the offense through two weeks. This is a tremendous improvement from Banks’ preseason performances.
Over three preseason games, Banks allowed three pressures over the span of 91 snaps, which placed him 35th on the team in PFF’s offensive rankings.
“I’ve been real happy with him in these first two weeks,” Shanahan said. “I think he took a step up in Week 1 from the preseason, and I think he even took a greater step up in Week 2 compared to Week 1. I thought he had one of our better games on offense and did a hell of a job.”
Offensive line coach and run game specialist Christ Foerster has liked the improvement he has seen from Banks as well, but knows that the second-year lineman is nowhere near being a finished product.
“It’s a developmental process,” Foerster said. “He’s got a couple of games in and he’s made steps each game. There’s always stuff to work on but he’s made some nice strides these first two weeks.
“That’s two weeks in a 17-week schedule and hopefully a postseason. We have a long way to go.”
Foerster knows it will likely not be an entirely smooth process throughout Banks' first season as a starter, knowing every young player goes through ups and downs during their NFL journey. After all, Foerster also coached Trent Williams in his rookie season in Washington, and recalled that the man who is now known as the best left tackle in the league had his own growing pains.
“I said at some point you’re going to be going through this process, playing well and all of the sudden you’re going to hit the skids,” Foerster recalled telling Banks. “All of the sudden, you’ll either come back from that, or you’ll be standing next to me on the sidelines.”
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Williams might be one of the reasons why Banks has improved dramatically since his preseason play. The All-Pro sat out of the entire preseason schedule, but has been active for both regular season contests. Williams anchoring the offensive line as well as his support on the field has been extremely valuable to Banks.
The Notre Dame product shared that Williams is constantly offering advice in regards to technique and is communicating with him throughout games.
“It’s awesome having Trent next to me,” Banks said. “An O-lineman group is as good as the guy next to you and you have to have a good camaraderie and communication among the front five. You can’t be five fingers, you have to be one fist.
“And when we are all on the same page I think we can do great things.”
Banks, Williams and the entire offensive line have a tall task ahead of them in Denver facing linebacker Bradley Chubb, defensive tackle and ex-49er D.J. Jones and the Broncos in Week 3.