Danny Gray

49ers' Gray expected to miss season opener with shoulder sprain

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Danny Gray is expected to be out of action for the opening of the 2023 NFL season after the second-year wide receiver sustained a shoulder sprain Saturday night.

"We were worried it was a broken collarbone, which is usually eight weeks," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday afternoon in a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

"But it is still a pretty bad injury. It's no break, which is good. But it's similar to what [safety] George Odum is dealing with. It's still not great news, but it's better than a break."

Shanahan said the report he received from the team's medical staff is that Gray is not expected to be ready for the season opener on Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a sternoclavicular (SC) joint sprain.

Gray sustained the injury on the opening kickoff of the 49ers 21-20 preseason win over the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium. He fielded the kick at the 6-yard line and angled toward the right sideline, where Denver’s Ja’Quan McMillian tackled him after a 23-yard return.

Gray landed hard on his right side. He was in obvious discomfort upon getting to his feet on the 49ers’ sideline.

Gray sat out the first preseason tilt against the Las Vegas Raiders due to a sore hip.

The 49ers selected Gray in the third round (No. 105) of the 2022 NFL Draft. He clocked one of the fastest times at the NFL Scouting Combine at 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Gray appeared in 13 games as a rookie. He had just one catch for 10 yards on a total of seven targets during the regular season. Gray saw limited action in each of the 49ers’ three playoff games.

The 49ers’ top three wide receiver spots are solidified with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings. There is plenty of competition for two or three more receiver spots.

Veteran receiver and return man Ray-Ray McCloud could miss some time early in the season after undergoing surgery on Aug. 11 to repair a fractured left wrist.

Rookie Ronnie Bell appears to be the front-runner to serve as a backup receiver and returner. Bell caught seven passes for 114 yards on Saturday night. He also had one punt return for 28 yards.

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