OL Aaron Banks Press Conference
OL Aaron Banks
Press Conference – April 30, 2021
San Francisco 49ers
What do you know about the 49ers offensive line, their blocking schemes? They’re known for putting a lot on the plates of their guards, so how do you feel like you fit into this mix?
“I think I am a big, physical guard who does really well in protection. I think I bring a physicality that a lot of 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.”
Have the 49ers told you how they plan on using you and have they said anything about potentially playing right guard and would that be a difficult switch at all for you?
“No, that conversation hasn’t happened, but that won’t be a difficult switch. I’ve taken a ton of reps at right guard. Not as many as I’ve taken at left guard, but the switch from left to right, especially at guard, is not a problem at all.”
Can you just kind of sum up what it’s like to be picked by the hometown team and being able to stay in the Bay?
“It is insane. It’s funny because all of my high school coaches are here and every single one of them are 49ers fans through and through, wearing their 49ers gear. I got the call and I was able to point at the TV and say, ‘Hey,’ the place just erupted. It was insane. It was the best moment of my life by far.”
Can you kind of take us through the amount of contact you had with the Niners throughout this process? How much you knew they were interested? Also, did you have any contact, did T Mike McGlinchey help you out at all during this process?
“I talked to Mike once or twice. As far as any inclination of the 49ers picking me or anything like that, I think our meetings were pretty standard. It was just about the same as almost every other team in the league that I met with. So, there was nothing that they said or did that stood out like, ‘Hey, we’re going to be calling you pretty early.’ They held their cards pretty close to their chest.”
Congratulations. They clearly wouldn’t have picked you if they didn’t think you were a fit for their zone blocking scheme, but you’re a little bigger than their typical guard. Was your playing weight at Notre Dame kind of what you should be at, your normal body weight or do you want to get a little slimmer?
“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. They tell me to do something, I’m going to do it. So, as far as somebody would say scheme specific, 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, midzone, it doesn’t matter. So, whatever you put, whatever you tell me to do, I’m going to do it.”
Notre Dame linemen have had a lot of success in the league. What is it that prepares, you think, for the NFL?
“I think it’s just the culture. It’s just the way we go about our business. We do a lot of extra work. We put in a lot of extra hours. We’re a very tight group, which I’m not saying every school doesn’t have a tight group of offensive linemen, but we’re exceptionally tight. We do a ton of work outside of what’s required of us. This group isn’t necessarily made for everybody. A lot of guys are weaned out and the guys who are meant to be there and can withstand what we do, those are the guys who play, those are the guys who succeed, those are the guys who make it to this level.”
You’re known for really being able to move people on the line. Would you say that that is your best quality and what else do you offer to the 49ers?
“Yeah. I’m not going to say that that’s my one best quality, but it’s something I do excel at. I think I bring a physicality to the game. I like to deliver a lot of loads, I like to knock people down. Some people call it ‘head hunting.’ But, I’m a big body to the offensive line that plays big, plays with a lot of physicality, likes to hit people, likes to knock people down and sometimes you see it. This isn’t a game that a lot of people want to play. So, I think that I bring that kind of edge to the offensive line.”
Growing up in the Bay Area, you know about the 49ers’ legacy with the quarterbacks and they added one yesterday. Did you pay attention to that and just what is your thought process on blocking for a quarterback that has such high esteem, whether it’s QB Trey Lance or QB Jimmy Garoppolo?
“It doesn’t matter who is behind me. I think they’re both great quarterbacks. But it doesn’t matter who’s behind me. I’m going to protect whoever’s behind me and put myself, my body on the line to protect them and keep them safe.”
Welcome back to the Bay Area. Your fellow Bay Area draftee Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris was talking yesterday about how excited he was for you to get drafted. Have you been able to talk to him and what’s it going to be like to be able to have your rookie year in the NFL with him and maybe some other guys that you have known since we were quite young?
“I haven’t actually gotten a chance to talk to him yet just because I understand how much his phone is blowing up, how many calls, text, tags, tweets, whatever that he’s getting right now. So, I’m going to probably hit him up and the next day or two and chop it up with him. I’m looking forward to that. It’s crazy because we both work out in the same gym. We’ve both been working out together since high school over at Mileage Fitness in Antioch. It’s crazy because I think we both knew that we both had the potential to make it this far and do these great things. It is absolutely tremendous.”
Mike’s obviously a dominant blocker and really enjoys that. He talks about how much he loves to just get into guys. You said the same on KNBR recently. How much joy does it bring you knowing that you’re going to be an offense that really prioritizes that and having a really dominant run game?
“I love running the ball. I think that, if you can run the ball, you can win games. To come into a program who 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. I played a year with him and I know his mentality. I know how he goes about his day. I know about he’s going to come and compete and play physical. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Aaron, can you tell us a little bit about the pre-draft process for you and then what your day was like today preparing for tonight?
“I spent the pre-draft process in Orange County. That’s where my agency has a place where we train. I actually haven’t been back to the Bay since last January, so it’s been almost a year and a half. I stayed in South Bend because of COVID. I worked out there the whole time. This whole process has been insane. Today I spent the day kind of prepping, honestly. I had some people coming over, some coaches and a couple of friends, family. So, I spent the day prepping and trying to clean up the house and setting up for people to have food and stuff. I had a pork shoulder on the smoker and was kind of just going about it as normal I can. I didn’t want to get too high. I didn’t want to get too low. Once it started, I kind of sat on the couch and watched the TV and waited for my phone to ring. So yeah, it was awesome.”
Who was the best player you went against in college and what did you learn about yourself during that matchup?
“I probably give it to [Southern California DT] Jay Tufele from USC. I had a chance to play him twice. Two years in a row. He’s just a very talented player. Very high work ethic, high motor. Plays super hard, but he’s also a good player. Fortunately, I was able to train with him. He trained at the same agency that I was at. He’s a great player. It would be fortunate to be on the same team as him.”
Aaron, you are a giant human being. You could be practicing against DT Javon Kinlaw, who is about the same size. How excited are you for that? Then how familiar are you with Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive playbook?
“I’m excited for the opportunity to come in and compete. I understand the type of players that I’m going to be coming in and practicing against. Honestly, and I stand by this statement, iron sharpens iron. So, I think playing against good players is going to make me better. Make me a lot better. If I can go against great players in practice, when I get to the game, it’ll be a little bit easier. I’ll be able to kind of dissect what the guy in front of me is doing a little bit quicker. And then as far as the offense, I’m ready to come in and learn the offense. I think I learn pretty well, pretty quickly, so I don’t think I’ll have any problem coming in and learning the offense.”
Hey, Aaron, I’m going to spit out about three questions at you, but they’re all kind of the same theme. When you see a team with the No. 3 pick take a quarterback, is there a part of you that says, ‘Hey, they might need a lineman too?’ And, what are your thoughts on being a guy that’s being brought in to protect Trey Lance, and do you know him at all?
“I don’t know him. But, I know that offensive linemen are at an all-time value. If you can’t protect your quarterback, you can’t really win games. I don’t know where else to go with that. Most teams need offensive linemen. We had a saying at Notre Dame, ‘The team goes as we go.’ By ‘we,’ I mean the offensive line. If you don’t have an offensive line that can protect the quarterback and assert the run game, then you’re going to have a tough time.”