NFL position a 'Gray' area for 49ers newcomer

NFL position a 'Gray' area for 49ers newcomer
May 8, 2013, 9:15 am
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MarQueis Gray played quarterback and wide receiver in college, but he's listed as a halfback for the 49ers. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

MarQueis Gray knows he has a Thursday flight to the Bay Area to attend the 49ers' rookie minicamp, which runs Friday through Sunday.

Beyond that, he has very little information about the organization's plan for him.

Gray was recruited to the University of Minnesota as a quarterback. He also played wide receiver in college. The only 49ers coach with whom he has spoken is tight ends coach Reggie Davis.

In paperwork filed to the NFL, the 49ers listed Gray as a running back. On the 49ers' official roster, Gray is the only player categorized as "HB" for H-back.

Gray's unofficial title might as well be listed as "SAK." He seems to fit the profile of a Swiss army knife, the term coach Jim Harbaugh used to describe do-everything tight end Delanie Walker, who signed with the Tennessee Titans in the offseason.

"That's fine with me," Gray told CSNBayArea.com on Wednesday. "I believe in myself. Anything that I can do to make sure I stay a 49er, I'm willing to do. I'm pretty sure the coaches know that, too. I'm excited to see where things go once I get to minicamp."

In Gray's college career, he passed for 2,053 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He rushed for 1,731 yards and 12 touchdowns, mostly out of the read option during his final two seasons. And he also caught 60 passes for 766 yards and six touchdowns.

As a senior, he switched between quarterback and wide receiver after sustaining a high ankle sprain, hairline fracture of his fibula with a sprained MCL in the third game of the season.

"I had six position coaches and three head coaches," Gray said. "So I moved quite a bit, and had quite a few playbooks. But I just had to adjust to different things. I made the best of it as I could."

Gray was invited to the NFL scouting combine as a quarterback. He measured at 6 foot 3 1/4, 240 pounds with a 34-inch wingspan. (Only first-round pick E.J. Manuel had longer arms among the quarterbacks). He was the only quarterback to record a score on the bench press, completing 15 reps of 225 pounds. Gray ran the 40-yard dash in 4.73 seconds.

"I was brought to the combine as a quarterback but I still met with other position coaches," Gray said. "Coach Davis was one of the guys I met with, and we hit it off. We stayed in contact. He was the first one to call me once the draft was over."

Gray said "numerous" teams wanted to sign him as an undrafted free agent. He ended up signing a deal with the 49ers that included a $4,000 signing bonus because he believes he can fill a need with the defending NFC champions.

"I felt like it was a better opportunity for me to make a roster and play, especially with Delanie Walker going to a different team," he said. "I thought it was a better chance for me."

The 49ers selected Rice tight end Vance McDonald in the second round of the draft, presumably to serve as Vernon Davis' backup. Gray's best chance to land a spot on the 53-man roster appears to be as the No. 3 tight end. He would be in competition against Garrett Celek and veteran Cameron Morrah.

Gray has never played tight end, so he has no experience as an in-line blocker. However, after his pro day he began working a couple days a week for more than a month with former NFL player Ben Utecht, who also played collegiately at Minnesota.

"I'm very excited to get out there," Gray said. "Doing all this training takes a toll on you. I've been doing it since January, and now to finally be a part of a team, and soon to know what position I'm going to be playing at, I'm excited for that."

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