May 29, 2024
“It’s awesome. He’s like an encyclopedia of the game. He brought me along a decent amount," 49ers offensive lineman Aaron Banks says of playing side-by-side with veteran Trent Williams.

SANTA CLARA – When Trent Williams took a seat near the practice field at training camp, naturally plunking down to his right was Aaron Banks.

Williams is the 49ers’ 10-time All-Pro left tackle. Banks is a second-year starter at left guard. Their cohesion not only anchors the offensive line but protects the blindside of their quarterback.

To better grasp the Williams-Banks bond, they sat together for an exclusive question-and-answer session with this news organization:

Question to Trent Williams: Now that you’ve played a season together, what have you learned about Aaron?

Williams: “I learned a lot about Banks in the last year, a lot more than his (2021) rookie year. It’s his determination and will to just continue to be better, adding IQ to the work ethic, to already the size and attributes. I’ve just got a different respect for him after this past year.”

Question to Aaron Banks: Is there something about playing next to Trent that opened your eyes that you didn’t know from watching on film?

Banks: “It’s awesome. He’s like an encyclopedia of the game. He brought me along a decent amount. Honestly, a lot was just my technique and giving me tips here and there. Just us communicating and gelling, it’s helped with our relationship. That comes with reps. But he’s going into Year 13 … “

Williams: “14!”

Banks: “Old.

SANTA CLARA, CA. – July 27: San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams answers questions on the first day of training camp, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

Williams: “Seasoned, bro.”

Banks: “Very seasoned. Nah, but he’s a dude that when it’s time to show up, he’s going to go. There’s no question about it. You know who he is and he’ll show up every day.”

Question to Williams: Have you always thought in your career you had to be a mentor?

Williams: “I wouldn’t say always. But as I got older, and I understood the disparity and the readiness that O-linemen coming into the NFL with compared to other positions, because we have one of the hardest positions to play. The college game and the NFL game is night and day.  Years back, I took it upon myself to help shorten that learning curve for younger guys. Years back, I had Chris Samuels when I was in Washington as a mentor. I always wanted to return that favor.”

Question for Banks: “Do you remember one tip he gave you last season?”

Banks: “He still tells me all the time, ‘Protect your chest.’ I’m still working with it. He’s full of game. I can ask him any question and he’ll give me what he knows. If he doesn’t know it, he’ll point me in the right direction on who to ask.”

Question for Banks: “You both had children last season. (Williams’ fourth daughter; Banks’ first child, a son.) Did Trent give you any fatherhood advice?”

Williams: “I told him not to wake up when the baby wakes up, to let his wife do it, because he has to work. He got up, trust me.”

Banks: “I took his tip. We have a nice thing going on at home. She definitely does the lion’s share at night. She gets it, and knows I’ve got to work to feed the family.”

Question: As parents, does that change your mindset?

Williams: “Yeah. This game is a hurt game. So many days you hurt. And it’s not during the game. The game is the easy part; you have adrenaline pumping. Just the every day of going through camp, practices, lift weights, cold tub, sit in meetings. Just the grind of it. That’s why at home keeps you fighting through all those nicks and pains. It gives you a greater purpose than what you’re feeling at home.”

Banks: “I couldn’t say it better. That’s exactly what it is. It keeps you going through all the hard times, ups and downs. You’ve got somebody to provide for, somebody is looking up to you.”

San Francisco 49ers guard Aaron Banks, right, blocks Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle David Moa (50) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 25, 2023, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez) 

Question to both: You made it to the NFC Championship Game the past two years, so what do you have to do to get back there and further?

Williams: “Get to Week 1. There were a few games last year we weren’t the team we knew we could be. And there were plenty of games we played like exactly like who we’re supposed to be. We just have to do more of that. Get rid of the games we don’t look like ourselves, and put more of our product on tape.”

Banks: “It’s about getting better every day. As long as I do that, I can help the guys next to me and we can set the standard through work. I’m not a big rah-rah guy. I come in to do my job to the best of my ability.”

Question to both: Away from the field, do you have offensive linemen dinners?

Williams: “Shoot, we’re together 24/7, so the little time we get away from the facility, that’s just a break. We literally see each other as soon as we wake up and right before we go home to go to sleep. When you get a little off time, meeting up for a little O-line dinner, that always helps the camaraderie, not always speaking football.”

Question to Williams: Does he have a habit that’s funny?

Williams: “I laugh at Banks all the time. He doesn’t like speaking in front of crowds. Every time he gives a scouting report on Saturday night, I’m always back there laughing, hearing his voice shake. We spend all day together and the guy’s still nervous talking in front of us.”

Question to Banks: What about Williams’ habits?

Banks: “I don’t know.”

Williams: “I’m a scratch golfer. No, but I broke 90.”

Question to Williams: Why did you take up golf?

Williams: “We want to Cabo in the offseason with Kyle (Shanahan) and Mike (Shanahan) and Juice (Kyle Juszczyk) and everybody was down there. Everybody knew how to golf but me and Deebo (Samuels). They put a club in my hand. That challenge just sparked a fire in me. Dealing with sports things, I hadn’t really met a bunch of stuff I couldn’t do. Golf was one of them. I couldn’t sleep with that. I had to figure out a way to get better.”

Banks: “I took up golf this offseason, too. I did the same thing. I went to Carmel (for a 49ers event) and Keena Turner’s tournament (for the Boys And Girls Club). I said, ‘Man, I’m tired of being the one that’s trash on my team.’ ”

Question to both: Did you buy your own golf clubs?

Williams: “I went waist deep. I bought PXGs. I went through the whole fitting process. I’ve got like three sets of clubs.”

Banks: “I bought some clubs. I wasn’t pulling no bread out like that. I got the cheapest ones at Golf Galaxy. I got them extended.

Question to both: How far can you hit it, 300 yards?

Williams: “Yeah, if I don’t slice it, I can hit 280 without straining. But when I get to holes 10 or 12, after I’m nice and oiled up, I can turn it on more and get to 300.”

Banks: “If I hit the ball right, I can put it pretty far.”

Williams: “That’s a big if.”

Question to Banks: You’re an East Bay native. A’s fan?

Banks: “I never really cared for baseball. So whoever was winning, A’s or Giants, I was a bandwagon fan. I was a Raider fan my whole life. I’ve got baby pictures in Raiders gear.”

Williams: “I grew up down the street from Dallas. I never cared about Dallas. I never really followed football. I followed players. In high school, when my dreams of touching a football dwindled, and I knew I was going to be an offensive tackle for sure, that’s when I found the best offensive tackle in the league and somebody that looked like me, and that was Walter Jones at the time. That became my favorite player.”

Question for Williams: Ever ask Jones for tips?

Williams: “When I was training for the combine, he was coming to train for the offseason, and he told me to come by and watch film. I forgot. That’s one of the biggest regrets I have. I was so caught up with getting ready for the combine and I didn’t really understand the importance of it.”

Question for Banks: Who did you grow up watching?

Banks: “Larry Allen. But the person I really liked to watch was Warren Sapp. I thought I was going to be a D-linemen. I really thought I was going to be a hooper.”

Williams: “Me, too.”

Questioner: “And now you’re both golfers.”

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