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Which Rookie Will Make the Greatest Impact for the 49ers in 2022?

Drake Jackson, Tyrion Davis-Price, and Danny Gray are sure to have their own unique impact on the 49ers. But which of them will have the greatest?

Nine players were taken by the 49ers in the NFL draft.

While the majority of their picks occurred on Day 3, the 49ers still were able to reel in a few intriguing prospects, some of whom will be able to contribute right from the gate. Drake Jackson, Tyrion Davis-Price, and Danny Gray are the three that are likeliest to make those instant contributions.

But what about the heftiest impact throughout the season? Jackson is bound to take on the Dee Ford role, Davis-Price will be the bruiser back in a rotation, and Gray will be the deep threat wideout. Each presents his own unique impact, yet one of them will be more influential with it.

So which rookie will make the greatest impact for the 49ers in 2022?

I believe it'll be Danny Gray. 

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Look, Gray is not some stalwart prospect that every team coveted. But that isn't really the point as to why the 49ers drafted him. What he demonstrated was electric speed and battle-hardened toughness. The 49ers were missing those two traits in one player offensively. And now that Trey Lance is set to take over as the starter this season, the 49ers now have a new element in their offense.

That is the deep ball threat. Kyle Shanahan could never take shots that he wanted due to the mediocre arm of Jimmy Garoppolo. Not to mention that the 49ers didn't really have anyone adequate to be a threat deep for a defense to respect them. Shanahan cited Travis Benjamin as a player who did that for them, but come on? Benjamin? Really? His best days were three to four years ago. No one is respecting him.

What defenses will respect is a younger, tougher, and more explosive player in Gray. With him in the fold, the 49ers can now fully utilize the entirety of Lance's game. That is why the 49ers brought Gray on. It is so that they do not limit Lance with the lack of vertical threatening options. George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk are not going to fly down the field consistently. They are capable of it, but they do not dominate at it. Going down the field is Gray's specialty.

With Gray, the 49ers can now enact a new dynamic to their offense. He doesn't even need to be a big stats guy. As soon as he makes a handful of plays downfield, defenses will be forced to pay attention. I would expect his season in terms of production to be 20 or so catches for 300 yards receiving and three or four touchdowns. Around that ballpark basically. Decent production for a guy who is the fourth- or fifth-option on offense.

Once he makes some plays downfield, he will open everything up for Shanahan. Suddenly, Kittle can start to look like the elite receiver that he hasn't been able to be recently. Samuel can take easy under-routes like crossers for massive chunks thanks to a defensive back or two flying deep to defend Gray. Having such an influence like that is what makes Gray the rookie who is bound for the greatest impact.

This isn't a slight to Jackson or Davis-Price. Both will be impactful in their own right. However, Gray has them beat by being the new added element, raising the ceiling to the offense, and being the reason Lance can reach his full potential is incomparable. If it all goes accordingly with his development, then Gray should be the best rookie on the 49ers in 2022.