Since Kyle Shanahan has taken over as 49ers head coach, there has been a preseason star at wide receiver, specifically the slot, each year. First, it was Trent Taylor. Once he came back from injury, Taylor seemed destined to break out as Jimmy Garopoplo’s favorite target in 2019.
Then, we had Mohamed Sanu. He was supposed to be the veteran that was needed inside, who knew how to win and played with the right mentality.
Last year, it was Trent Sherfield. He was different front Taylor, as Sherfield brought speed to the table. Everyone recalls Sherfield’s deep preseason touchdown reception from Trey Lance. That came after Sherfield had impressed throughout training camp last year.
Neither Taylor, Sanu, nor Sherfield did anything noteworthy during each season after standing out in training camp. This year, the 49ers have another wide receiver who is grabbing everyone’s attention — rookie Danny Gray.
The difference between Gray and the names mentioned above is the investment the 49ers have in him. The other three were all on one-year contracts. San Francisco drafted Gray in the third round. So not only will he have a longer leash than the others, but there’s an expectation for Gray to produce.
During today’s episode of The Shanaplan, we ask whether you are buying Gray’s preseason hype. He ran by Patrick Peterson and connected with Trey Lance on another deep throw during Wednesday’s joint practice against the Vikings. It feels as though we see these reports daily from Gray.
No matter if you’re all in on Gray or would rather wait and see before you crown him, his impact on the offense is already felt. For the first time in ages, defenses must respect the 49ers' deep passing game. Kyle Shanahan can open up the playbook, and all that’ll do is create more space for some of the best playmakers in the NFL.
Rob Guerrera and I discussed Gray and what else Twitter told us happened during joint practices today. You can listen to the episode in its entirety below:
Other topics include:
Will Trey Lance being under pressure be the norm? (7:04)
How will 49ers fans react to Lance’s bad games? (10:25)
Shanahan’s odd comment that the QB won’t make or break the team (13:06)
Shanahan knows this team is going to be good and has said so (16:36)
Two weird photos that emerged from practice (22:17)