Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

49ers rookie Danny Gray did this after dropping a deep pass during practice

May 14, 2022 at 9:16 AM--

Like many NFL players, rookie wide receiver Danny Gray strives for perfection. Unfortunately, no one can be perfect. For a quarterback, it's easy to dwell on that off-target throw. Maybe it's that football that slipped out of your grip for a running back. For a cornerback, that near-interception that bounced off your eager hands.

For a wide receiver, it's that big-play throw that you couldn't haul in.

That's what happened to Gray on Friday afternoon during the San Francisco 49ers' first practice of a three-day rookie minicamp. While others might try to push the slip-up out of their minds and focus on the next rep. Not Gray.

According to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, the rookie wideout fell to the ground and paid penance with 10 push-ups. That was the penalty for the mistake.

It's worth noting that the drop came during individual drills, not even seven-on-seven work. For the rest of the practice, Gray was about as impressive as a receiver could be going up against other rookies.

"After his drop during individual drills, Gray had five receptions during seven-on-seven work, including a nifty toe-tap reception deep down the left sideline and a long over-the-middle grab in which he beat sixth-round cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields," reported Branch.

While his collegiate statistics may not do him justice, Gray boasted a 40-time of 4.33 seconds, a vertical jump of 34 inches, and a broad jump of 126 inches at the NFL Scouting Combine. He offers the type of blazing deep-threat speed that head coach Kyle Shanahan has sought for a while. It convinced the 49ers to draft the young receiver in the third round with the No. 105 overall pick.

However, to make it in the NFL, Gray knows his game at the pro level has to evolve beyond being just a deep threat. San Francisco also expects all of its receivers to support the rushing attack, a staple of Shanahan's respected offense.

"Blocking is a big part of the game," Gray told reporters on Thursday, per Rohan Chakravarthi. "No block, no rock."

Yes, Shanahan loves the speed aspect of Gray's play, but he can see much more in the inexperienced player. That's what the 49ers were betting on by drafting him.

"What I like about Danny, I would say his number one trait was speed," Shanahan said after the draft, "but his number two trait was toughness. And I think that's a rare quality for those to be one and two, so I definitely like that about him a lot."

General manager John Lynch added, "He can take that ball. He's got that toughness, so he's kind of fearless, but he can find his way. We call it slashing. He slashes his way through the defense and that was fun to find a guy with that much speed who also has the other elements."

Gray believes he can be "elite" when he gets into open space with the football in his hands. He just needs to focus on reducing the mistakes. He knows that. Thus the push-ups on Friday.

"I bring elite speed, can create open space, and I'm a deep ball threat," Gray told reporters after being drafted.

While he knows he has a lot to prove in the NFL, he is determined to prove his doubters wrong.

"All the receivers that were taken before me, I'm going to show them something," Gray said.
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