Oh Boy, let's all hope Trey Lance makes it out alive.
San Francisco’s second-team offensive line has struggled throughout camp. But I'm sure Shanahan has a plan. There are plenty of players to be intrigued about on offense. There’s an intense receiver battle after WR3. The running back room looks crowded, but the two returning backs have dealt with injuries as of late — not to mention that the offensive line depth isn't the strongest.
Speaking of the line, let’s start with the Niners' second-rounder.
Aaron Banks didn’t make a name for himself during camp. He struggled against some of the defensive tackles during practice, and that should be expected. However, San Francisco’s defensive line is a group of veterans, so it isn’t time to overreact yet.
Banks is a larger guard that could influence Kyle Shanahan to run different concepts other than wide zone more often.
Some good and bad from Aaron Banks here. pic.twitter.com/FwVOOzNmBc— Xavier Dixon (@GOOBVILLE) August 14, 2021
Being a second-round draft pick, you would like to see Banks make an impact immediately. Although this may be true, you could see why he may be considered unpolished in the first two clips on the video.
In the first clip, he moves well as a puller, but he reaches out and grabs for no reason. Secondly, you’d rather see him shoot his hands inside to avoid any penalties, even though he wasn't flagged there.
What impressed me most was his reps as a pass blocker. The notion of bigger guards is that they are usually weaker blockers in pass sets. Banks has plenty of time to get ready and be an NFL starter. But if he doesn't improve and it limits him from contributing, the question will be raised why didn't the 49ers a draft cornerback in the second round?
49er fans thought Richie James was a shoo-in for the third wide receiver position heading into training camp. That void looks to be filled by Trent Sherfield. Brandon Aiyuk has taken James’ punt returner responsibility according to the unofficial depth chart. James needs a big preseason, or he could see himself buried on the depth chart. At least he has that kick returner position locked down.
James has constantly struggled in practice as a 49er. Entering a contract year, James will need to truly show his hand and prove he can win at all levels. You can’t rely on being a deep threat in Shanahan's offense. He demands that receivers be unselfish.
Initially, when Elijah Mitchell was drafted, I scratched my head. San Francisco’s RB room was already crowded with Wayne Gallman joining Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr., Not to mention the Niners traded up to draft Trey Sermon in the same draft.
Yea. He’s fast. When watching Mitchell, he physically shocks you because he’s a “speedster.”
Jordan Elliot, who was hands-on in training camp, mentioned he thought Mitchell was the most explosive running back on day 2 of the Niners training camp. I also used some clips from Jordan’s Twitter thread on Mitchell. What I want to see most from Mitchell is his ability to catch out the backfield. If he can prove he is an efficient pass-catcher, he could be more used in the rotation than you think.
The 49ers drafting Aaron Banks will be questioned if he does not contribute this season. Yes, I know it’s just the preseason, but the cornerback room needs help. Richie James has been underused in the Shanahan offense, and maybe it's for a reason. Elijah Mitchell is who I'm ready to see most on offense early. This offense needs a consistent pass-catcher out the backfield, and Mitchell could become that guy.
There are plenty of names I left off. Ross Dwelly could make some big plays if Shanahan gives him some looks. Dwelly is entering his fourth year as a 49er, so the time for a jump is now. Also, look out for rookie left tackle Jaylon Moore. He has been getting second-team reps at left tackle, and it's been noted that he can also play guard. Anyway, Go, Niners!