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SANTA CLARA — Danny Gray has come into the 49ers’ offseason program with a new approach and both Deebo Samuel and coach Kyle Shanahan have taken notice.

“Seeing him these past couple of weeks you can tell that he’s learned a lot, Samuel said on Tuesday. “He still makes mental mistakes here and there but he’s done a good job of minimizing those and putting himself in a position to play.”

Shanahan is notoriously tough on his wide receivers. Samuel shared that he wore a visor on his helmet so the head coach could not read his lips while saying unflattering things during practice. The tumultuous timeline of Brandon Aiyuk’s sophomore season is well known.

Gray, now equipped with the experience of what a full NFL season requires has a much better understanding of what he needs to do to see more playing time on the field. In his rookie season, Gray was on the field for only 87 offensive snaps over 13 games catching one of his 10 targets for 10 yards.

“I think Danny learned from his first year,” Shanahan said. “Just how long that grind is of a rookie year. We saw him in the offseason have a little different attention to detail the way he came here in phase one and two, how he worked to get in shape.

“That’s what has allowed him to have a good OTAs and go through a bunch of stuff, which to me he’s finally got in the shape to where he could do everything and this will really help him for training camp.”

As a third-round draft pick — No. 105 overall, Samuel believes there was a lot of pressure on Gray to play without the understanding of how hard it can be in the NFL. Samuel knows through experience how challenging it can be — especially with Shanahan as his coach.

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The All-Pro was very complimentary of Gray’s new approach to practice and believes that part of the reason the young wideout has improved as a result of Samuel’s advice.

“Last year I was just explaining how Kyle operates,” Samuel said. “What it takes to be on the field and what it takes to be a receiver in this offense. It’s not all about catching the ball and running. You got to stick your nose in there. You got to put your big-boy pants on and just be ready to do whatever Kyle asks you to do.”

So far, Gray is following his fellow wide receiver’s advice.

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