Niners' Signing of Lloyd Has No Downside

If veteran wide receiver flashes old form, 49ers have added a gem; if he's no longer sharp, the team loses very little

Don’t expect the 49ers’ signing of free-agent veteran wideout Brandon Lloyd to impact their draft strategy.

San Francisco will still be looking for a young, fast, playmaking receiver in the draft to team with Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Quinton Patton.

The signing of Lloyd, meanwhile, is a low-risk, possibly high-reward move that could either: 1) pay off in a big way if Lloyd, 32 – who did not play in the NFL last season – flashes the form he showed with New England in 2012 when he had 74 catches; or 2) result in Lloyd failing to make the roster out of training camp.

The odds probably are against Lloyd making a big impact for the Niners in 2014. After sitting out a season, Lloyd doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the wideout head coach Jim Harbaugh says he’s hoping to add, “A third guy who can get open and make plays. … A playmaker.”

As Marc Sessler of wrote after the 49ers announced the signing Tuesday, “The 49ers should keep looking. We’d be surprised if a 32-year-old pass-catcher coming off a sabbatical year fills that need.”

But Lloyd – originally a fourth-round pick of the 49ers in 2003 – has surprised teams before with his productivity.

After playing his first three seasons in San Francisco, then bouncing between the Redskins and Bears with no real success, he led the NFL in receiving yards in 2010 with the Broncos at the age of 29, catching 77 passes for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns. The next season he was traded during the season to the Rams, but still had 70 catches, then had 74 receptions for 911 yards in his one season with the Patriots.

Lloyd reportedly had interest from several teams to sign in 2013, but decided to pursue an acting career instead. He appeared in one movie, “After Effect,” with Daniel Baldwin, but then decided to play again.

If Lloyd shows he’s an effective receiver – and the 49ers also pick up a good pass catcher in the draft – San Francisco would suddenly have a very deep and good group of receivers.

If not, and Lloyd fails to make the roster, the one-year, low-risk deal will be a small price to pay for the possibility of a big reward.

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