49ers

Catching up with Brandon Lloyd

601436.jpg

Catching up with Brandon Lloyd

Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was an enigma during his three seasons with the 49ers.He was good for an absolutely spectacular catch every game or so, and there was a period after Terrell Owens' exit in which Lloyd was 49ers' best wide receiver.The 49ers selected him in the fourth round of the 2003 draft. But when the new regime came in, Lloyd did not fit into the plans. Lloyd brought a lot of it on himself. He did not get along with some teammates and coaches. And while I can't cite any specific problems he had with the media, he had an uneasy relationship with the beat reporters, too.After Lloyd left the 49ers in a trade after the 2005 season, he signed a big-money deal with the Washington Redskins and then virtually disappeared off the NFL map for four seasons.But over the past two years, Lloyd has turned his career around. In mid-October, the St. Louis Rams acquired Lloyd from the Denver Broncos, a team that has virtually eschewed the passing game with Tim Tebow at quarterback.Lloyd returns to Candlestick Park on Sunday as the Rams' top wideout. In just six games with the Rams, he has 31 catches for 396 yards and four touchdowns.RELATED: NFL leading receivers
"He's been terrific," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I love the kid as a person -- tremendous character. He's been a shot in the arm for us, energy-wise, as far as stretching the field and some plays he can make. He's been in the league a long time. His experience has helped with the young receiving corps we have."
Lloyd carved 20 minutes out of week to take part in a conference call with a couple members of the Bay Area media that covered him back in the day. Lloyd was one of the better conference call subjects in recent memory. Here were some of the highlights of the call:--Lloyd's concentration was broken several times as teammates -- prominent teammates, he said -- had their, uh, bare backsides pressed up against a window in front of him while he was on the phone at Rams Park.--Was he surprised the 49ers traded him after the 2005 season?"I don't think so. I think it was a new regime. They were looking to go in a different direction. And I was at the point in my career where I needed to get the big contract. It happens to every player, where you have to make the decision to either stick around with the team, and that's a two-way relationship, too. The team has to want to player, and the player has to want to be with the team. Or you go for the money, and that's what I was choosing to do."The Redskins acquired Lloyd from the 49ers for third- and fourth-round draft picks. Then, the Redskins signed Lloyd to a lucrative deal that included a 10 million signing bonus.--On his rocky relationship with the San Francisco media: "You got to understand, when you guys were dealing with me in San Francisco, I was 23 years old. And was trying to carve my path and my career, and build my career and give it a foundation. And it's tough as a 23-year-old person when you're giving all your heart and putting everything into your career and you're getting criticized by people who have no idea, really, how to do this. It's a lot to take. And it's compounded by your teammates who you respect and you hope respect you, and I felt like I got dog-piled on out there. My natural reaction was to try to defend myself with words. And it wasn't the right way to go about it."--Lloyd took a bad rap early in his NFL career for also pursuing a music career. A common perception -- misperception, Lloyd says -- was that he was more interested in hip-hop than on football."I don't think it was ever a real distraction," he said. "It was something that people would always bring up because I wasn't performing as well as they thought I should be, so they tried to come up with that as the excuse for the reason why," Lloyd said.His rap career is going strong. He has a track, "Chamber," on the House of the Rising Sun soundtrack. His music has also been featured on Spike TV's "Blue Mountain State."--After leaving the 49ers, Lloyd faded into wide receiver obscurity. From 2007 to '09, he caught 36 passes in 21 games. Last year, he reemerged with the Denver Broncos to lead the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards with 11 touchdowns on 77 receptions."I think it's a story of perseverance," Lloyd said. "I never had the attitude that it was somebody else's fault. I kept a positive attitude and I kept believing in myself."The one thing that I would say about the road that I've been on was that no one ever said that I couldn't play. It was always other things. And I felt once the other things -- meaning the relationships with teammates and coaches -- and as I mature, I'm able to communicate more efficiently with people, for lack of a better saying . . . and just keep plugging, and I've gotten a lot better as a player. I've improved my skill level. It's coming together just by me being able to hang around long enough and be able to experience playing at a high level with all the knowledge I've gained over nine years."--There was some national speculation that the 49ers might be one of the interested teams when the Denver Broncos made him available for a trade."I thought there was an outside chance, but the chemistry was (good) out there, so I didn't think it was actually going to happen," Lloyd said.--Lloyd was asked about the situation he left in Denver with Tebow taking over as quarterback."This is what I was talking about in the summertime when (Kyle) Orton was on the trading block," Lloyd said. "Hey, trade him now so we can go into the Tebow era. Let's get it over with and see if he's got it. Let's build the offense around him. Let's do that. But don't have a starting quarterback and run an offense and the anticipation for Tim to play be so powerful that it just distracts the team."They did it. They structured the offense around him and they're having success with it. It's good for them. Hopefully, they get the desired result and they make a push and get into the playoffs and it'll work out."--When asked if he was surprised that the Broncos are winning with Tebow, Lloyd answered, "Not at all. That's what I saying back in the summertime. Just gives us something to believe in. All I wanted in the summertime was some clarity. Make it clear who the quarterback is going to be, and then we can buy into it. It doesn't matter what the offense is. It doesn't matter what you do. We're the best athletes in the world at what we do. It doesn't matter what we do, as long as we believe in it and we're all executing it, it'll work. And that's the never-ending quest for every team. Just believe in what we're trying to show you and it'll work. So, no, I'm not surprised at all."--The Rams (2-9) gave up a fifth-round draft pick to acquire Lloyd through the end of the season. He is scheduled for free agency, but he said he would like to return to St. Louis."I say to myself, Sam (Bradford) has a really bright future and I want to give him a good example for maybe one day he's going into the Hall of Fame and he can say, 'Oh, man, we had this one receiver, Brandon Lloyd, and he showed me how a receiver is supposed to look.' And that's my main goal," Lloyd said. "I'm having a blast. I'm playing better than I've ever played football in my life. I'm having the most fun I've ever had playing football. And it's a new role for me being an example. And it feels different knowing that the younger players are watching my every move. It's a new and exciting experience. I like this new role and whatever happens, happens."--On playing the 49ers: "It's just another game to me. The fans and the franchise saw me last year in London. You saw that game, right?"Lloyd had seven catches for 169 yards last season against the 49ers in the Broncos' 24-16 loss.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

blaine-ap.jpg
AP

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

kyle-us.jpg
USATSI

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.