Will 49ers part ways with 2 notable picks from 2022 NFL Draft?
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers had hope for both Tyrion Davis-Price and Danny Gray after drafting them in Round 3 last season, but they could end up being one-and-done.
The San Francisco 49ers have provided plenty of recent case studies as to why fans shouldn't get too overly excited or upset about any particular NFL Draft class in any given year.
Case in point, it's not hard to go back and find lofty praise for the Niners' efforts in the 2017 draft, especially in Round 1, while there were plenty of criticisms for some of the day-three picks San Francisco made in the 2021 draft.
We'll let you look up those players and what happened with each draft, but shifting focus to the 2022 NFL Draft, it's already shaping up to be something of a disappointment.
At least the 49ers' early picks in Rounds 2 and 3. Round 7 turned out to be pretty good (thank you, quarterback Brock Purdy).
As far as Round 2 is concerned, EDGE Drake Jackson ended up being a healthy scratch toward the end of the season and into the playoffs, the general result of a lack of conditioning. However, he showed enough prowess early on that his roster status with the 49ers isn't exactly in doubt.
The Niners' two picks from the following round, however, could easily find themselves in jeopardy.
Tyrion Davis-Price, Danny Gray could fail to make 49ers roster in Year 2
Nicholas McGee over at Niners Nation hit this one on the head with regard to how head coach Kyle Shanahan feels about players who are either making a lot of money or, in this case, were drafted high:
"Draft status has rarely meant much to Kyle Shanahan when it comes to assembling his 53-man roster. The 49ers head coach is not shy about parting with players in whom the franchise invested day-two and early day-three selections over the years. Joe Williams was cut before the season started in 2017, third-rounder Trey Sermon lasted only one year after being picked in 2021 and 2018 second-round selection Dante Pettis failed to make it through his first three seasons before being waived. It stands to reason, then, that any player picked in last year’s draft who did not have much of an impact as a rookie has cause to be nervous about their position on the roster."
San Francisco's two third-round picks created polar reactions a year ago. Former LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price was considered a bit of a wasted pick and potentially a reach, but former SMU wide receiver Danny Gray was looked at as the speed element necessary to take the top off Shanahan's offense.
Neither player made much of an impact, though.
Davis-Price ended up recording even fewer rush yards than Sermon did his rookie season (167), as the former rushed for just 99 yards on 34 carries and found himself buried behind Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell and even an undrafted free agent in Jordan Mason.
Perhaps the only thing aiding Davis-Price is the reality that McCaffrey and Mitchell both have injury histories, and there's a necessity to keep healthy bodies in the mix.
Gray, meanwhile, had one reception for 10 yards on seven targets.
Based on performance alone and what happened with Sermon, Davis-Price should be off the roster by the time Week 1 rolls around. McCaffre, Mitchell and Mason are all still there, and if only one of the two undrafted free agents the 49ers brought aboard after the 2023 NFL Draft impresses, UTEP's Ronald Awatt and Marshall's Khalan Laborn, Davis-Price could be in serious danger.
The situation is even bleaker for Gray, though, who is looking up at a wide receiver depth chart that'll lock in Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Ray-Ray McCloud. Additionally, Jauan Jennings is probably safe on the roster, too, meaning there'll be either one or two more spots to round out this group at most.
Gray's future could hinge upon what the Niners do at quarterback. The speedster isn't exactly a flashy route-runner, and his use was only made noteworthy because of the strong arm of quarterback Trey Lance.
As McGee pointed out, should Lance no longer be favored and fellow signal-caller Brock Purdy winds up being the guy, Gray's value diminishes greatly:
"[Gray] was drafted in part as the downfield threat the 49ers have long since lacked, yet the need for his speed decreased when Trey Lance suffered a season-ending injury, with Jimmy Garoppolo a quarterback rarely inclined to push the ball on throws over 20 air yards. If Brock Purdy’s recovery from elbow surgery goes to plan, and he returns as the 49ers’ starter, there may be more short plays called for a quarterback who attempted 20 throws of 20 air yards or more in a season where he made only five regular-season starts."
Read More: Danny Gray was the Niners' most disappointing rookie in 2022
Gray didn't offer much else other than speed, which is a prime reason he essentially disappeared from the game plan last season. And with San Francisco drafting former Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell, a player who easily could have been selected in Rounds 4 or 5 and not in the seventh round where the 49ers got him, Gray's chances of hanging around become that much more precarious.
Of the two, it's likely Gray who's shown the door first, but neither player should be considered safe by any means.