After a year away from football, the 49ers’ Brandon Lloyd is proving to every team in the NFL that he hasn’t lost a step.
After a terrific game in Sunday’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, Lloyd now leads all Niners receivers in yards per reception with 18.2.
Not bad for a 33-year-old who generated nothing but yawns this past offseason when his agent notified them that Lloyd was making a comeback.
After trying out with the 49ers, San Francisco was the only team to offer him a deal.
Now, it’s paying off for both.
Lloyd had three catches for 76 yards in the 22-17 victory over Kansas City, including an acrobatic, leaping, twisting 29-yard reception over 6-foot-3 cornerback Sean Smith late in the game that kept a drive moving toward a field goal.
He now has six catches this year for 109 yards, with three of those receptions good for 20 or more yards.
Though Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree are established as the team’s No. 1 and 1A receivers – each with 25 catches on 36 targets – Lloyd and former Bill Stevie Johnson (who had a TD catch Sunday) are giving quarterback Colin Kaepernick a wealth of playmaker receivers.
Niners offensive tackle Joe Staley noted after Sunday’s game that he was amazed by Lloyd’s leaping catch, saying, “It was probably the highest vertical I’ve ever seen an NFL player jump.”
Even during spring drills after Lloyd signed, Kaepernick was quickly impressed by the veteran receiver who was still scraping the rust of his game.
Said Kaepernick in May: “He’s been amazing out here. Very smooth, very disciplined with his routes, and he’s an easy target to throw to.”
That connection between the two was evident Sunday, when Kaepernick essentially threw the ball up high and let Lloyd go up to get it.
“Colin trusted him and threw the ball up and gave him a chance to make that play,” said 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Lloyd’s performance helped San Francisco win its second straight and improve to 3-2. Now the 49ers get an extra day of rest before facing the Rams in St. Louis on Monday night, Oct. 13.
Passing against the Rams may be a difficult task, however. The Rams’ passing defense is No. 1 in the league, giving up just 192 yards per game.
Lloyd, however, is coming on. He hopes to continue to contribute in a big way as his connection with Kaepernick continues to grow.
“I think we’re still developing our confidence and chemistry with all levels of routes,” Lloyd told reporters. “The stuff in the heat of battle helps. It all factors in as far as personality and understanding of what we’re both capable of.”