Danny Gray

Lynch pleased by ‘early returns' from 49ers' Gray, Davis-Price

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SANTA CLARA -- As 49ers teammates Danny Gray and Ty Davis-Price prepare for their second NFL seasons, their work hasn't gone unnoticed by general manager John Lynch.

The two 2022 NFL Draft picks are trying to find their place on a stacked 49ers roster that possesses a myriad of offensive weapons, with Gray facing fierce competition in the wide receiver room and Davis-Price attempting to make an impact as part of a deep backfield.

But in Lynch's mind, they're both coming along just fine.

"Develop is the key word," Lynch said Monday before training camp practice. "I think last year they had their struggles. ...

"They've got to continue stacking days, but I really like the early returns on both of those guys."

Gray, taken in the third round by the 49ers last year, played just 87 snaps of offense as a rookie in 2022 and caught only one pass for 10 yards. The 49ers like his speed and toughness, and they believe the youngster eventually can make an impact. But success as an NFL wideout doesn't come easily -- especially in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

"Receiver’s a tough position to play here. We split the guys all over," Lynch explained. "We ask them to multi-align, we motion them. So, I think that can slow some players down early. And I think there's been an adjustment period for Danny."

Gray wouldn't be the first 49ers receiver to face an uphill climb in his first couple of years with the team. Both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk had difficulty adjusting to Shanahan's methods at first, but they're now viewed as one of the league's top receiving duos after turning things around. Similarly, Gray is showing signs he belongs.

"Danny's always shown a want to go make those blocks and things. Now he's taking his game to the next level, and we're starting to see it," Lynch said. "I know he gets frustrated because he feels like he can run and if they can just get it out there, he can run by anyone. But he's doing his job over and over and my experience in the league, when you're doing it over and over and doing things the right way, it will start to show up on the field. And we're starting to see glimpses."

In Davis-Price's rookie campaign, the former third-rounder was active for six games with 34 carries for 99 yards. By comparison, Jordan Mason, who signed with the 49ers after going undrafted in 2022, was active for 16 regular-season games and recorded 43 carries for 258 yards.

Running backs coaches Anthony Lynn and Bobby Turner uphold a high standard, Lynch added, and last season, they didn't feel like Davis-Price was the guy they watched in college. But Davis-Price is doing what it takes to progress in this league -- putting in hours that have helped usher in a complete "turnaround" for the young back, per Lynch, and a "huge leap," in the words of Shanahan.

Lynch said that after some encouragement from his wife Linda, he has been coming to the 49ers facility to work out early in the morning and stumbled upon Davis-Price alone in the locker room the other day.

"Ty Davis-Price, he's really come a long way," Lynch said. "... I don't know what the hell he was doing here at 5:00 a.m., but he was here and you're seeing it on the field. He's hitting the hole. He's hitting it with the aggressiveness and that downhill style that we like, and he's made himself a better receiver in the pass game. He's made himself a better blocker in the run game.

"And Ty's the type of player who's going to shine more when the pads come on because he plays with a tremendous physicality."

Davis-Price looked the best he has since becoming a 49ers during practice Monday, earning a loud "Let's go!" from new front office member Frank Gore during one run. Gray made his presence known, too, finding success with both Trey Lance and Sam Darnold at quarterback on a couple of catches.

As Davis-Price and Gray look to solidify their spots on the 49ers' roster, they have the full support of Lynch.

"Really proud of those two young men," he said.

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