When you draft a quarterback of the future so high in the first round, you make sure he has a bodyguard or two.
Aaron Banks, meet Trey Lance.
Banks, a Berkeley native who played at El Cerrito High School, was selected by the 49ers in the second round of Friday’s NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5, 325-pounder is a very physical guard out of Notre Dame.
Now Banks will be part of the protection unit for Jimmy Garoppolo, the incumbent starter, and eventually Lance, whom the Niners took with the No. 3 overall pick Thursday. The 49ers then added to their arsenal by trading up to pick Ohio State running back Trey Sermon in the third round. They also added Michigan cornerback Ambry Thomas in the third round.
Banks started the final 31 games of his college career and played left guard. Banks is expected to move over to right guard and will compete for a starting spot with Daniel Brunskill, a fourth-year veteran who was an undrafted free agent out of San Diego State. If Banks does start at right guard, he would join an offensive line that already has four first-round picks as starters.
Not only will it be a homecoming for Banks, but he will be reunited with former Notre Dame teammate Mike McGlinchey, the Niners’ starting right tackle.
A first-team All-American as a senior, Banks allowed just two sacks in his career and 19 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. Taking Banks with the 48th overall pick was a little bit of a surprise considering most draft experts projected him to go in the third round. While he might be a little stiff and needs to improve the use of his hands, Banks is hard to move out of the way and should be able to improve his weak points.
The Niners were supposed to pick 43rd overall, but traded that pick and a seventh-rounder to the Las Vegas Raiders for the 48th pick and a fourth-rounder (121st overall).
To get Sermon in the third round, the 49ers traded their two fourth-round picks to the Los Angeles Rams for the 88th overall selection. The 6-0, 215-pound Sermon joins a crowded backfield that includes incumbent starter Raheem Mostert, top reserve Jeff Wilson and recent free-agent signee Wayne Gallman (New York Giants).
Sermon came on late in the season and opened eyes when he broke the Ohio State single-game rushing record by exploding for 331 yards in the Big Ten Conference title game. He has good vision, cutback ability and terrific at getting to the outside. Despite a physical appearance, Sermon’s short-yardage running was inconsistent. Sermon, who transferred from Oklahoma to Ohio State for his senior season, also has an injury history, with a cracked vertebrae as a high school junior, a knee injury as a college junior and a dislocated AC joint in his shoulder on the first play of the national title game as a senior.
If Sermon does start with Lance, the Niners would have a Trey squared backfield.
After three straight offensive players, the Ambry was the first defensive player drafted by the 49ers this year. The 6-0, 191-pound Thomas started just one year at Michigan and opted out of the 2020 season. Despite losing 35 pounds after having colitis, Thomas started all 13 games in 2019 and showed physical and mental toughness. Thomas could also be a factor on special teams as he had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as a sophomore.
The pick used on Thomas, 102nd overall, was awarded to the Niners through the NFL’s new minority-hiring program after defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was hired as the New York Jets’ head coach and executive Martin Mayhew named general manager of the Washington Football Team.
On Saturday, the Niners will have three fifth-round selections and one sixth-round choice.
Also, Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little was taken in the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 45th overall pick. The 6-7, 313-pounder hasn’t played since sustaining a knee injury in the 2019 season opener. He missed the rest of 2019 with the injury, then opted out of playing in 2020. Little is considered an extremely strong pass protector and will have the responsibility of blocking for No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, the quarterback from Clemson.
In the third round, Stanford quarterback Davis Mills was taken by the Houston Texans, who did not have a pick in the first or second rounds. Quarterback was not a position of need as Deshaun Watson is the unquestioned starter, but the offseason began with Watson demanding a trade and then nearly two dozen women filing civil lawsuits accusing the QB of sexual assault. Watson is under investigation by the NFL.
The 6-4, 217-pound Mills started 11 of the 13 games he played the last two seasons and completed 65.5 percent of his career passes for 3,468 yards and 18 touchdowns against eight interceptions.
Paulson Adebo became the third Stanford player drafted Friday when the junior cornerback was picked by the New Orleans Saints in the third round. The 6-1, 198-pound Adebo opted out of the 2020 season after starting 21 of 22 games he played as a freshman and sophomore. The son of first-generation immigrants from the tiny African nation of Benin, Adobo had four interceptions in each of his two seasons with the Cardinal and was named All-Pac-12 Conference as a sophomore.