While OTA’s are far from an end all be all when it comes to how a roster will be utilized, they also provide a glimpse into the direction that teams are planning on going when it comes to roster hierarchy and where certain players will line up when the season rolls around.
One of the most interesting takeaways so far through two weeks of OTAs was the news that Aaron Banks has been taking his reps at left guard. This is noteworthy because Banks took all his snaps at right guard during his rookie season and because the 49ers don’t have a clear frontrunner on the left side after the departure of long-time starter Laken Tomlinson.
A few months back, I wrote about why I thought it was prudent for the 49ers to move Banks back to the left side, where he recorded over 1,800 snaps during his time at Notre Dame. Here is an excerpt from that piece:
“I’m proposing that the 49ers put 2021 2nd round pick, Aaron Banks, back at his natural position at left guard and go into the 2022 season with him as the starter. A move like this sets Banks up for immediate success in his sophomore campaign for two different reasons.
Putting Banks back into his natural position where he was most comfortable playing could go a long way on its own. At times we tend to overlook just how hard the transition of moving from one side of the offensive line to the other is. All the mental reps you’ve taken and the muscle memory you’ve built up are now flipped upside down, and you’re starting from scratch.
With Banks back, where he took the majority of his reps in college, the familiarity of being on the left side could do wonders for his confidence and overall production right out of the gate. There is a certain level of responsibility for the coaching staff to get the most out of a player by putting them in the best position to succeed, and this would be the best possible situation for Banks now, as well as moving forward.
2. This one is simple. Any player you put next to Trent Williams is going to look better as a result of playing next to the best left tackle in football. Potential deficiencies get masked, and any growing pains are far less magnified as a result.”
Ultimately there is a long way to go before you can pencil Banks in as the Week 1 starter at left guard, but the fact he is getting those reps now is a promising sign regarding how the 49ers likely plan on utilizing Banks in the future.
Not only does it put Banks in the best position to succeed, but it also clears a path for Daniel Brunskill to reprise his role as the starting right guard, a job he has done admirably and frankly not gotten enough credit for in the process.