The San Francisco 49ers signed veteran wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to a one-year deal with no guaranteed money, taking a low-risk, high-reward flier on a player familiar with the 49ers organization. Although Lloyd never played under Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman during that time period, he did spend the first three seasons of his career in San Francisco, hauling in 733 yards in his final year with the team. However, he was out of football last season and in a zombie movie instead, and some even questioned his desire to continue playing as a result of what happened following his release from the New England Patriots.
Lloyd could pay off huge dividends for the 49ers, and he received interest from them and other teams last offseason before ultimately deciding to sit out the 2013 season. His reunion with the 49ers will see him as the No. 3 wide receiver in the offense behind stalwart duo Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, and he also figures to get less looks from Colin Kaepernick than star tight end Vernon Davis.
That said, it looks like the 49ers would like to throw the ball more often, and they definitely need a deep threat to take advantage of Kaep’s cannon arm. Lloyd definitely fits that role, especially if his 2012 season with the Patriots, in which he was much slower than expected and didn’t play up to the value of his contract (he was average when he needed to be “good”), is indeed an anomaly. But since he is being paid so little, he would be worth it at this price even if he isn’t as effective as he was in 2010 or 2011. Now that he’s older, he has declined, but hopefully he hasn’t lost too much speed, and the reward associated with his ability to stretch the field deep definitely makes him a worthy signing.
What will his role with the 49ers look like? Instead of answering that question, Lloyd gave a very mature response that oozes with veteran experience and realism, via the 49ers official site, “No clue. I have so many steps I have to take before I can even consider myself on the team, on the roster. Really, I’m just focused on being in condition and being in the right mindset to perform well at the OTAs and perform well at the minicamps.”
He’s not guarantee to make the roster on a deal that isn’t guaranteed, but I expect him to latch on. If he doesn’t, then the 49ers have promising second-year pro Quinton Patton and will also figure to have a rookie WR on the roster.