San Francisco new recipient Danny Gray found the ideal workout partner before the draft to prepare him to play as the 49ers ’strong-armed quarterback, Trey Lance.
This is a former 49ers quarterback known for his ability to throw with speed.
“I work with Colin Kaepernick, and he has a bazooka, too,” Gray said Thursday. “It’s been a great workout. That’s why I think I’m ready for the task.”
Gray is part of a group of receivers that includes Eagles wideout Jalen Reagor and Washington draft pick Jahan Dotson who work with Kaepernick in Dallas.
Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since his final year with the 49ers in 2016 when he made headlines when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
The opportunity to work with an iconic figure like Kaepernick is meaningful for Gray.
“It’s a good impression working with a Super Bowl quarterback, a good quarterback at that,” he said. “It was a surreal moment for me, really.”
The Niners drafted Gray in the third round of the draft two weeks ago, hoping the fast receiver from SMU could add another deep-threat option for Lance on offense coach Kyle Shanahan.
Gray arrived at the Niners facility on Thursday to prepare for his first rookie minicamp. He had a chance to meet Lance in person and began to acclimate before attending his first NFL practice on Friday.
“It feels like a dream come true, really, just to get into an NFL uniform, on an NFL field,” he said. “It just feels like a good time, a time I can’t explain.”
The journey to the NFL was a long process for Gray, who began junior college at Blinn College after failing to qualify academically for four years of school.
“It was a difficult time in my life,” he said. “I felt like a failure at the time, knowing I was an unqualified one to come out of high school. It kind of hurt me, like I failed my mom, my family and friends. I was a bit more strong man. It makes me a stronger player. It makes me want to never be satisfied. “
Gray played well for Blinn and earned a spot at SMU to end his college career. He got 82 passes for 1,251 yards and 13 TDs in two seasons.
Gray, a seasoned high school sprinter, ran a 4.33 40-yard dash in the combine and provided a much-needed component to San Francisco’s offense.
“I’m an elite in open space,” he said. “I can turn on speed at any hour. On the field, my speed is natural. It’s just there and you can see.”
Gray was more of a sprinter as evidence with 8.5 yards after the catch he averaged last season at SMU, according to SportsInfo Solutions.
That’s part of the toughness his uncle instilled in him from the time he started playing football at the age of 5.
“He was always drilling my head – head down, hard work,” Gray said. “It doesn’t matter what. Go be the strongest man on the field, whatever.”
Gray is part of a Niners rookie class headed by second-round edge rusher Drake Jackson. San Francisco doesn’t have a first-round pick, as Lance replaced it last year.
The Niners also took LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price 12 spots before Gray at No. 93 before adding a depth to the cornerback and the offensive line on the third day of the draft.
San Francisco ended it by getting quarterback Brock Purdy in the final selection as Mr. Irrelevant.
“After the draft, I had family and friends come over and just enjoy it or text me, saying,‘ You’re related to us, ’and all that stuff,” Purdy said. “They’re having fun. But for me, I have an opportunity. That’s what I’m looking at.”
Reporting to the Associated Press.
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