49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

June 8, 2012
49ers interested in exonerated LB Banks


The 49ers are one of a handful of teams interested in Brian Banks, the 26-year-old linebacker from Southern California who was wrongfully incarcerated for five years.

Banks had a workout Thursday with the Seahawks and is working out for the Chargers today, agent Bruce Tollner said. Tollner said Banks had a handful of visits scheduled next week but there was nothing concrete with the 49ers at this point.

Banks was a star linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School and said he'd made a verbal commitment to USC as a junior. When he was 16, a teenage girl accused him of rape and kidnapping. Banks was convicted and served more than five years in prison and spent the last five as a registered sex offender. The woman, however, later recanted her story to a private investigator who videotaped the conversation. Banks was completely exonerated in a hearing last month and has been trying to resume his life.

"This is a great illustration for us why people deserve a second chance," Seahawks coach Carroll told the Seattle media Thursday. "Because of what he has overcome and because of what lies ahead for him in his life. This is just one step but it's a step he's been dreaming about for a long time. And it's just such a great illustration about not giving up and competing for what you want and not let your circumstances or surroundings dictate what is going to happen in your life."

One of the first steps a team must take is deciding which position Banks will play. Tollner said some teams envision him - he's 6-2, 240 pounds -- as an inside linebacker, some see him playing outside linebacker. The 49ers' bigger need is at outside linebacker after both of their draft picks, Darius Fleming and Cam Johnson, went down with knee injuries. Johnson is expected back for training camp; Fleming is likely out for the season with an ACL tear.

Banks has been working out with a trainer in Orange County but is not yet in football-playing condition. Carroll and the Seahawks invited him to take part in next week's minicamp on a tryout basis.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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