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Danny Gray 49ers

Danny Gray Poised To Earn Key Role For 49ers

  • Ryan Fowler
  • August 15, 2022
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For the San Francisco 49ers, Friday’s preseason debut showcased their youth—in ways different from normality. While the bright lights of the NFL game often prove too bright for a lot of young players, the performance of wideout Danny Gray in tandem with quarterback Trey Lance provided a reason for excitement as San Francisco creeps closer to the regular season. 

For Lance, while 2022 is more of his redshirt season after minimal snaps earned last fall, Gray is brand new to the scene as a third-round pick back in April. A wideout whose speed garnered attention throughout the draft process—and an invite down to the Senior Bowl—his play against Green Bay could hint at another weapon for Lance to use at his disposal with full reins of the offense.

A standout throughout the early portions of camp, although Gray has been dealing with minor hip and back soreness, he was full go on the perimeter on Friday—and man can he pick ‘em up and put ‘em down on the outside. Aligned in the slot, there’s nothing tricky about what he or Lance did to get the ball in his hands. You can’t teach speed, and Gray has PLENTY of it to show off. And when you couple that burst with Lance’s easy gas under center, the field begins to expand as secondaries are forced to increase their cushion. The 76-yard hookup proved to be the highlight of the afternoon, but Gray also hauled in another reception for 23 yards that brought his total up to 99 (49.5 YPC), a yard shy of the century mark in his pro debut—not too shabby if you ask me. 

Although his rapport with Lance will only improve as times go on and Gray is able to avoid the injury bug that has hampered him a tad this summer, his arrival to pair with young studs Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk could see the 49ers’ offense enter an entirely new stratosphere when it comes to output. 

Samuel’s production doesn’t need an introduction, as his versatile skill set and ability to take it the distance at any time keeps defensive coordinators up at night. For Aiyuk, even more is expected out of him after posting more than 1,500 yards combined in his first two NFL seasons. His performance ceiling is truly unlimited as an aerial threat, and he’s been the standout at 49ers camp for head coach Kyle Shanahan. 

Aligning those two talents on the outside with tight end George Kittle should present Gray with similar matchups as he saw on Friday night—against defenders lower on the corner totem pole. The game is all about creating advantageous situations for your skill players and Shanahan remains one of the best in the NFL in doing so. While the insertion of Lance alone will allow him to dust off portions of his playbook he hasn’t used with Jimmy Garoppolo, with the speed of Danny Gray to complement the aforementioned elite-level talents, San Francisco could be cooking with grease on the offensive side of the football.

Written By

Ryan Fowler