Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

3 encouraging reports from 49ers rookie minicamp

Rohan Chakravarthi
May 14, 2022 at 5:20 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers had their first day of rookie minicamp on Friday, in which the drills consisted of primarily 7-on-7s, as there was a lack of available offensive and defensive lineman for 11-on-11s.

While there isn't normally much to take away from the first day of drills, here are three encouraging reports from Friday's start to rookie minicamp.

1. Danny Gray impresses

Gray, a third-round selection in last month's NFL Draft, was reportedly the best player at minicamp, and it wasn't close.

Gray showcased his speed on a number of occasions in 7-on-7s, including a near 50-yard touchdown catch when he got behind fellow rookie Tariq Castro-Fields in coverage for the score.

While Gray had a dropped pass, which was somewhat of an issue during his time at SMU, the rookie receiver made a number of different catches that alleviated the concern, including a near 20-yard back-shoulder fade.

From an initial review, Gray impressed, and will look to continue making his mark as he attempts to climb up the loaded San Francisco wide receiver depth chart ahead of the 2022 NFL season.

2. Future third-down back Jordan Mason?

The 49ers drafted running back Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. However, it was a different running back that flashed during Friday's practice: undrafted free agent running back Jordan Mason out of Georgia Tech.

With only 7-on-7 drills, the running back group could not showcase their rushing ability, which was at the forefront of Davis-Price's skillset, given that he was expected to complement Elijah Mitchell as a bruising runner.

Davis-Price, who expects to play this season at 220-225 pounds, did not fare as well in 7-on-7s, where he dropped one of his targets on a checkdown in the flat. The LSU product isn't expected to be a major contributor in the passing attack, as he wasn't featured heavily in that role in college, but that was all that was seen on Friday.

Mason, on the other hand, appeared to have a better route running acumen and had a nice catch in traffic. With the 49ers in need of a pass-catching back, as well as new running backs coach Anthony Lynn's affinity for receivers out of the backfield, Mason could look to battle for a spot on the 53-man roster or the practice squad in training camp.

3. Future defensive coordinator in sight?

There was a surprise guest in attendance at the 49ers' rookie minicamp on Friday, as former 49ers defensive coordinator and Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio made an appearance.

Remember, the 49ers were linked to Fangio earlier in the offseason as a potential defensive advisor following his departure from the Broncos. However, the veteran coach elected to take the year off from coaching.

In 2023, current defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans could receive more head-coaching interviews, especially if he delivers the same level of performance that his defense had in 2021, which could lead to a vacancy at the coordinator position for the 49ers.

Step in Fangio, who has familiarity with the team, serving as the defensive coordinator from 2011-2014. The 63-year-old coach could use the potential opportunity as a stepping stone to becoming a head coach again in a few years, given how good the 49ers' defense has been.

While much of the current chatter is speculation, it is not out of the realm that Fangio could have a role with the 49ers in 2023, especially if DeMeco Ryans departs for a head-coaching gig elsewhere.
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