SF 49ers Q&A: Shooting the breeze with Brock Purdy’s blind-side protectors

49ers offensive linemen Trent Williams and Aaron Banks talk football, fatherhood and golf

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

Williams is a 10-time All-Pro left tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. Banks is a second-year left guard starter. Their unity not only anchors the offensive line but also protects the quarterback’s blindside.

To better understand the Williams-Banks relationship, they sat down for an exclusive question-and-answer session with this news outlet:

Trent Williams, what have you learned about Aaron now that you’ve played a season together?

“I learned a lot about Banks in the last year, a lot more than his (2021) rookie year,” Williams says. It’s his determination and will to keep getting better, adding intelligence to his work ethic and size and attributes. I just have a newfound respect for him after the last year.”

Is there anything about playing next to Trent that opened your eyes that you didn’t know from watching on film?

“It’s fantastic,” says Banks. He’s like a video game encyclopedia. He brought me a decent amount of money. To be honest, a lot of it was just my technique and a few tips here and there. It’s helped our relationship just by us communicating and gelling. That comes with practice. But he’ll be in Year 13… “

Williams exclaims, “14!”

“Old,” says Banks.

“Seasoned, bro.” Williams says.

“Very seasoned,” says Banks. Nah, but he’s the type of guy who will show up when the time comes. There is no doubt about it. You know who he is, and he will appear every day.”

Williams, have you always felt obligated to be a mentor in your career?

“I wouldn’t say always,” Williams says. But as I grew older, I realized the disparity in readiness that O-linemen bring into the NFL compared to other positions, because we have one of the most difficult positions to play. The difference between the college and NFL games is night and day. Years ago, I took it upon myself to help younger guys cut their learning curve. When I was in Washington, I had Chris Samuels as a mentor. I’ve always wanted to repay the favor.”

“Do you remember one tip he gave you last season?” Banks is asked.

“He still tells me all the time, ‘Protect your chest.'” Banks I’m still figuring it out. He’s full of energy. I can ask him anything and he’ll tell me what he knows. If he doesn’t know who to ask, he’ll point me in the right direction.”

“You both had children last season,” Banks was asked. (Williams has four daughters; Banks has one son.) Trent, did you give you any fatherhood advice?”

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

“I took his advice,” says Banks. We’re having a good time at home. She definitely does the majority of the work at night. She understands and understands that I need to work to feed the family.”

Is this changing your perspective as a parent?

“Yeah,” says Williams. This is a painful game. You’ve been hurting for a long time. And it’s not happening during the game. The game is simple; your adrenaline is pumping. Just going through camp, practices, lifting weights, sitting in meetings, and so on. It’s just the grind. That’s why staying at home keeps you going despite the nicks and pains. It gives you a greater purpose than you have at home.”

“I couldn’t put it better myself,” says Banks. That’s precisely what it is. It sustains you through all of life’s ups and downs. You have someone to provide for, and someone is looking up to you.”

Question for both: You’ve been to the NFC Championship Game the last two years; what do you need to do to get back there and even further?

“Get to Week 1,” says Williams. We weren’t the team we knew we could be in a few games last year. And there were plenty of games where we pretended to be exactly who we are. We just need to do it more often. Get rid of the games in which we don’t look like ourselves, and record more of our product.”

“It’s about getting better every day,” says Banks. As long as I do that, I can assist the guys next to me and we can set a good example at work. I’m not a big rah-rah person. I come in to perform my duties to the best of my ability.”

Do you guys have offensive linemen dinners away from the field?

“Shoot, we’re together 24/7, so the little time we get away from the facility is just a break,” Williams says. We literally see each other as soon as we wake up and as soon as we get home to sleep. When you have some downtime, getting together for a little O-line dinner always helps the camaraderie, rather than just talking football.”

Question for Williams: Does he have a funny habit?

“I always laugh at Banks,” Williams says. He dislikes speaking in front of large groups of people. Every Saturday night when he gives a scouting report, I’m back there laughing, hearing his voice shake. We’ve spent the entire day together, and the guy is still nervous speaking in front of us.”

Banks, how do you feel about Williams’ habits?

Banks: “I don’t know.”

“I’m a scratch golfer,” Williams says. No, but I did break 90.”

Williams was asked, “Why did you take up golf?”

“We wanted to go to Cabo in the offseason with Kyle (Shanahan), Mike (Shanahan), Juice (Kyle Juszczyk), and everybody was down there,” Williams said. Except for me and Deebo (Samuels), everyone knew how to play golf. They handed me a club. That challenge lit a fire under me. When it came to sports, I hadn’t run into much that I couldn’t do. One of them was golf. That made it impossible for me to sleep. I needed to find a way to improve.”

“I took up golf this offseason as well,” says Banks. I did the exact same thing. I traveled to Carmel for a 49ers event and Keena Turner’s tournament for the Boys And Girls Club. ‘Man, I’m tired of being the trash on my team,’ I said.

I have a question for both of you: did you buy your own golf clubs?

“I went waist deep,” Williams says. I purchased PXGs. I went through the entire fitting procedure. I think I have three sets of clubs.”

“I bought some clubs,” says Banks. I wasn’t going to pull bread like that. Golf Galaxy had the cheapest ones. I was able to get them extended.

Both of you, how far can you hit it, 300 yards?

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

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

“If,” says Williams, “that’s a big if.”

Banks, you were born in the East Bay. A’s fan?

“I never really liked baseball,” says Banks. So I was a fan of whoever was winning, A’s or Giants. My entire life, I was a Raiders fan. I have baby pictures of Raiders gear.”

“I grew up down the street from Dallas,” Williams says. I was never interested in Dallas. I was never a big football fan. I kept track of the players. In high school, when my hopes of ever touching a football faded and I knew I was destined to be an offensive tackle, I discovered the best offensive tackle in the league and someone who looked like me, Walter Jones. That player quickly became my favorite.”

Williams, have you ever asked Jones for advice?

“He was coming to train for the offseason when I was training for the combine, and he told me to come by and watch film,” Williams said. I had forgotten. That is one of my deepest regrets. I was so focused on getting ready for the combine that I didn’t realize how important it was.”

Banks, tell me who you grew up watching.

“Larry Allen,” says Banks. Warren Sapp, on the other hand, was someone I enjoyed watching. I imagined myself as a D-lineman. I was convinced I was going to be a hooper.”

Williams says, “Me, too.”

“And now you’re both golfers.”

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