Kyle Shanahan Applauds 49ers’ ‘League Leading’ Fifth-Year WR

Ray-Ray McCloud, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Ray-Ray McCloud celebrating a touchdown for the San Francisco 49ers.

Over the course of the 2022 calendar year, San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch assembled an Avengers-caliber collection of offensive talent, with Pro Bowlers at wide receivers, running back, tight end, left tackle, and now center. While some worried that the offense might lose its muster when Trey Lance was replaced by Jimmy Garappolo, the team’s depth provided enough cushion to keep things effective, even when Brock Purdy was inserted into the lineup on the second drive of Week 13.

And yet, a team isn’t only as good as its top-line talent. No, because as many as 46 players see action in any given week for an NFL team, having talent spread all over the depth chart is vital, as Niners fans saw firsthand when Ray-Ray McCloud, a free agent wide receiver signed away from the Pittsburgh Steelers on a two-year, $4 million contract, stepped into Deebo Samuel’s shoes when the All-Pro wide receiver missed time with a leg injury. When asked about how McCloud has helped the team out and really come into his own as a 49er during his Tuesday media session, Kyle Shanahan delivered an all-timer of a quote about the fifth-year pro.

“Ray-Ray leads the league in mumbles, so sometimes you have to get him to not mumble, but no, Ray-Ray’s been great,” Shanahan said via 49ers WebZone. “He’s been awesome for our team. The way he plays just so fearlessly and the way he has fun out there, that’s how he is in person. You never know what you’re going to get. He’s an interesting dude that everyone enjoys, but football is so important to him. He goes about it his way, which he’s going to get there, maybe a different way than you’re used to, but by the time his assignments come, by the time the game comes, he’s a dude that you can count on because it’s important to him. He doesn’t want to let anyone down, and I’ve been really pumped that he’s on our team this year.”

Goodness, fans will be quoting that line to and about McCloud for a very long time, but what does “goes about it his way” mean? Fortunately, Shanahan extrapolated further on the point later in his media session and provided some much-appreciated insight on the matter.

McCloud has Brought Unique Workouts to the San Francisco 49ers

In the NFL, some players have superstitions like wearing the same socks or having a specific meal before practice. For McCloud, his routines to become the best player he can involve bringing his own ball to practice and other unconventional exercising techniques.

“He carries his own ball out there. I didn’t realize it was his own ball until he threw it to me, and it almost pulled my arms off because it weighs like 30 pounds, so he tricked me with that. He ties things to his hamstrings all the time. I still can’t figure out what they are. He’s got his own little routine that he does, and now that we’ve been around him, it works for him, and I just know we can count on him when we eventually get there.”

For how unconventional McCloud’s routine may be, his production on the field has been right on par with his production in 2021 as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Considering Lynch’s desire to bolster his special teams in free agency, getting incredibly efficient offensive play out of McCloud is just a bonus.

Ray-Ray McCloud Built on a Strong Season in Pittsburgh

After amassing 39 catches on 66 targets for 277 yards as a member of the Steelers in 2021, McCloud set new efficiency records during his first season with the 49ers, averaging 17.4 yards per target on 14 receptions for 243 yards and even caught his first career receiving touchdown. In addition to his work as a kick and punt returner, returning a total of 68 balls over between the two roles, McCloud also ran the ball four times for 78 yards and even took a 71-yarder to the house for touchdown number two in Week 16.

While the 49ers do have a potential out in McCloud’s contract at the end of the league year, with the potential to save $1.215 million against the cap according to Spotrac, Shanahan appears to be very happy to have the Clemson product on his roster, and that is a very good sign for his future in red and gold.

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