Why new speedster Gray should fit well with 49ers, Lance originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
After 13 wide receivers were selected within the first 54 selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, the run slowed down enough for the 49ers to add a pass-catcher with the final pick of the third round.
The 49ers selected Danny Gray of SMU, the 17th receiver to be drafted but the fourth-fastest among his position group at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Gray should fit nicely with strong-armed quarterback Trey Lance, the 49ers’ presumptive starter for the 2022 season.
“He’s going to struggle to out-throw Danny because Danny can run,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said of Lance.
Gray clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.33 seconds at the combine, which is considerably faster than Deebo Samuel (4.48), Brandon Aiyuk (4.50) and Jauan Jennings (4.72).
“He’s got legit speed,” Lynch said of Gray. “Sometimes with track guys, that doesn’t translate over to the football field. His does. But in addition to that, he does a lot of the things that we covet: In-breaking routes, screen game, he’s very good with yards after the catch. ”
The 49ers envision Gray mostly as an X receiver (or split end) who is is planted on the line of scrimmage and can use his speed to get away from pressing cornerbacks. The 49ers like his combination of speed and toughness.
He should be a good pairing for Lance, who is more likely to stretch the field with his arm than Jimmy Garoppolo.
“I think we’ve always liked that [speed] in our offense, but going back to when we studied Trey at North Dakota State, he throws a beautiful deep ball. He really does it well, ”Lynch said. “He’s got a lot of strength in that arm, and he’s got a natural trajectory that bodes well for a deep ball. So those guys are going to have some fun, going and chasing them. ”
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In 18 games last season, Garoppolo completed only 14 of 39 pass attempts of 20 yards or more down the field for 476 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions, according to PFF. Only 8.8 percent of his pass attempts were deep throws.
In limited action, Lance completed five of 13 passes that traveled 20 yards or more while making two starts. Those completions went for 202 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He attempted deep passes on 18.3 percent of his attempts.
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