Young 49ers WR Named Likely Cut Candidate: ‘Have to Consider’

Danny Gray

Getty San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Danny Gray

The San Francisco 49ers are focused on the NFC Divisional Round, but there are already wheels turning for the 2024 edition of the roster. The 49ers haven’t been perennial Super Bowl contenders by being lax with roster building, and wide receiver Danny Gray could be the next cap casualty.

On January 16, Bleacher Report’s scouting department addressed the 49ers potential cap casualties this coming year. While there are other names on the list, Gray’s inclusion is a somewhat surprising one.

“While the 49ers might not be eager to part with 2022 third-round pick Danny Gray after just two years, it’s a move they may have to consider,” the article reads. “Gray had just one reception as a rookie, and while he landed on injured reserve to start the 2023 season (SC joint sprain), he wasn’t activated… Given San Francisco’s need for a dependable third receiver, Gray’s status is telling.”

NFL teams have to be ruthless in their pursuit of success. Unfortunately for Gray, his being projected as a cut candidate is a product of that. Injury and a strong roster are legitimate obstacles, but San Francisco has yet to see any real return on their third-round selection.

Danny Gray Struggles to Make Jump from College

Coming out of college, upside was a big selling point for Gray. With an impressive 4.33 40-yard dash and 6’1 frame, he had the athleticism and stature of a typical NFL WR. While he did not light up box scores consistently at SMU, the appeal was that he just needed development.

In the current landscape of the NFL, the 49ers are possibly the best at developing talent. They clearly liked Gray, using a third-round pick to select the now-24-year-old. It hasn’t really panned out.

According to PFR, Gray made 13 appearances as a rookie in 2022. But he was targeted just seven times, catching one pass for 10 yards. He also had a rushing attempt, gaining nine yards.

A tiny role, but San Francisco still gave him an opportunity. 2023 could see that ramp up, but injury cut that short instead. A shoulder issue put him on the injured reserve before the regular season began.

But after his expected recovery time, the 49ers have showed no interest in activating him. In fact, they let him ride the season out on the IR. With zero playing time in 2023, the former third-round pick’s future is murky to say the least.

49ers Projected to Add Promising WR

While Gray is being labeled a cut candidate, Sports Illustrated’s Luke Easterling has suggested the 49ers add new blood to the WR group with Washington standout Jalen McMillan. McMillan was could be a replacement if Brandon Aiyuk has to be traded, but San Francisco could draft him either way.

McMillan totaled 2127 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns in his last three years with the Huskies. He scored in Washington’s National Championship loss to Michigan and is projected to go in the third round.

No college prospect is a guarantee, but there is a lot to like about McMillan. Whether Gray, Aiyuk or both WRs depart this offseason, the 49ers could do far worse than the 22-year-old.

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