49ers Wide Receivers (5)
WR Deebo Samuel
WR Bradon Aiyuk
WR Jauan Jennings
WR Danny Gray
WR Ray-Ray McLoud
PS: WR Tay Martin, WR KeeSean Johnson
This may sound like a broken record by now, but training camp seems to have solidified the Niners’ receiver group as well.
Now that Deebo Samuel has signed his lucrative new contract, he steps in next to camp MVP Brandon Aiyuk as the top two wideout targets for Trey Lance heading into 2022. Jauan Jennings is also having a solid camp and appears to be locked in as the Niners’ third wide receiver option after he caught 24 passes in his first full NFL season, 15 of which went for first downs.
The fact of the matter is that Kyle Shanahan doesn’t often utilize more than three receivers at a time, so the 49ers are unlikely to keep more than five at the position, leaving just two slots left at Samuel, Aiyuk, and Jennings.
Rookie Danny Gray stands a good chance of making the roster due to his special skill: He’s very fast and can stretch the field in ways nobody else on the team can. He’ll have to show he has value on special teams as well, though, but given the draft capital the Niners spent on Gray (he was a third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of SMU), he seems likely to stick around.
That leaves one final spot, and free-agent signing Ray-Ray McLoud appears to be in the pole position to take the slot. Much of this comes down to his experience as a returner on special teams, as the former Steeler, Panther, and Bill has averaged 9.5 yards per punt return and 22.4 yards per kickoff return over his career.
McLoud is also coming off his most productive season as a receiver in 2021, pulling in 39 catches for 277 yards for Pittsburgh, so he could prove to be a valuable option out of the slot for Shanahan.
As for the practice squad, the Niners will keep at least one, maybe two receivers there, with names like Tay Martin and KeeSean Johnson being particularly interesting on that front, but it could be any number of options.