When the San Francisco 49ers made Danny Gray their final day two priority in the 2022 NFL Draft, the expectation became that the wide receiver who runs a 4.33 40-yard dash time would become the future deep threat for Trey Lance.
But how has Gray prepared for Lance and his throwing velocity?
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Gray spoke with the Bay Area media on the eve of rookie minicamp for the 49ers on Thursday, May 12. The former Southern Methodist wideout didn’t just train with any kind of quarterback. He trained with a past NFC champion quarterback who once lined up behind center for the 49ers.
And the moment he got asked if he has experience in catching the footballs of high velocity a la what Lance delivers, Gray unveiled the name of the man who has helped prepare him for Lance.
“Well, I worked out with Colin Kaepernick,” Gray revealed. “So he, kind of, has a bazooka too. So that workout was pretty great. So I think I’m up for the task.”
How Gray and ‘Kap’ Met
Kaepernick guided the 49ers to the 2012 season NFC title by taking over for an injured Alex Smith. The following season, he took the 49ers to the NFC title game before losing to eventual Super Bowl 48 champion the Seattle Seahawks.
Kaepernick hasn’t played in the league since 2016 after kneeling during the national anthem to call attention to racial injustice and police brutality. In 2019, he reached a collusion settlement with the league. But since then, the 34-year-old has continued training with the goal of making it back to an NFL roster.
How did Gray, the 102nd overall pick in the ’22 draft, link up with the Ex-49ers dual-threat passer? Gray shared that Kaepernick was throwing the ball in Dallas, where Gray is from. Gray’s trainer David Robinson then got the former 49er to come out. Other NFL wide receivers Jalen Reagor of the Philadelphia Eagles and Jahan Dotson of the Washington Commanders were among the group of receivers Gray worked out with.
“It was a great impression working out with the Super Bowl quarterback — a great quarterback at that,” Gray told reporters. “It was just a surreal moment for me.”
Gray, though, said he didn’t get the chance to spend a significant number of time with Kaepernick, saying “We didn’t really have a chance to chop it up.”
He did give the former 49er a title.
“I knew he was just a great dude and he’s a legend in my book,” Gray said.
What Gray Plans to Bring to 49ers Offense
Gray enters the league as part of one of the faster group of rookie wide receivers in recent memory. Gray isn’t shy about speaking on his speed.
“I’m elite in open space. So I can turn the speed on at any time,” Gray said.
Once he was asked if he’s better as a wideout who takes the short pass and accelerates up the field or if he’s someone who thrives more on going deep, Gray gave this answer:
“I’m going deep,” he said. “I’m taking the top off the defense.”
Now that the NFL schedule got released on Thursday evening, Gray will get a chance to use what he learned from that Dallas workout and get a jump on his chemistry with Lance on September 11 at Chicago.