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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver depth sparks a camp battle for 49ers

Aug 14, 2022 at 10:49 AM--

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If there hasn't been much discussion about a camp battle at the wide receiver position, there may be some soon.

Third-year receiver Jauan Jennings finished last season strong and made a solid case for the third spot on the depth chart at the position. Still, free agent signing Ray-Ray McCloud and rookie Danny Gray made a solid case in the 49er's' 28-21 preseason victory over the Green Bay Packers on Friday evening.

McCloud had four receptions for 63 yards and showed something for the highlights when he "shook" Packers cornerback Rico Gafford for a 39-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld.

"I just caught his blind spot and took it back to the middle of the field," McCloud said.

Gray, who had two receptions for 99 yards, one of which was a 76-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Trey Lance, said he felt Lance was going to throw him the ball when he saw the Packers line up on defense.

"It was just beating my defender," Gray said. "When I saw the safety roll down on top of me, oh yeah, I knew what it was."

The 49ers drafted Gray from SMU in the third round of the NFL draft. He ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"Throw it to the fast guy," Lance said when asked what was going through his mind on the play. "Danny did a great job. He's done a great job all camp. Just him being healthy, obviously, he's a difference maker for us on offense. His speed is something I've had maybe one other time in my life."

That other time was college teammate Christian Watson, who was standing on the opposing sideline on Friday night.

The Buffalo Bills drafted Ray-Ray McCloud in the 2018 NFL draft. He played for the Carolina Panthers during the 2019 season, and spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though he was mainly used as a return man in his four seasons, McCloud, who has 64 receptions and 390 receiving yards, said the energy from Levi's Stadium was surreal.

"You've got to really be here to understand it, and that's just a preseason game," McCloud said. "I can't imagine when there's playoffs on the line, the season, and NFC Championships."

Jennings only played 10 snaps in the victory, but Gray and McCloud still have a long road ahead to supplant the third-year receiver who finished last season with 24 receptions, 282 yards, and five touchdowns.

The 49ers' depth at wide receiver is strong, with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk at the top. Seeing who emerges in San Francisco's next preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings will give everyone something to talk about.
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    Sports has been my first love since I was 12 years old. At one point I wanted to play football professionally. I started to take photography as a hobby in my teenage years but this was when I followed sports. I started to listen to sports radio, I found my true calling and it was to be a sports talk show host. Though I follow football and basketball, I started to have a new love of cultures around the world. After graduating from San Antonio College in 2018, I worked for the Castroville News Bulletin before going to A&M San Antonio to get my communications degree. Since I have written for the Ranger of San Antonio College, the News Bulletin and the Mesquite of Texas A&M San Antonio, I met many people and went to a lot of events. My major milestone was being in the press box of the San Antonio Commanders game for the Mesquite and being apart of a press conference with the Medina County Sheriff and other local news outlets. When I am not doing anything, I like to watch old cartoons on the DC Universe, play video games such as Mega Man and the Mass Effect series. I have also created Youtube channel called "Anger Management" with my friend Aaron Donnell.
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