Blast from the past: Brandon Lloyd

In his first seven seasons in the NFL — his first three with the 49ers — Denver wide receiver Brandon Lloyd played for four teams and never had more than 733 yards or 48 catches in a season.

He was traded by the 49ers, released by the Redskins and discarded by the Bears.

Last year, his first with the Broncos, he was inactive for the first 14 games.

At 29, it appeared safe to label him a washout before this season, a guy
who had the talent to make some highlight-reel plays and the attitude
to ensure his ability was never fully realized.

So, naturally, Lloyd enters Sunday’s game against the Niners ranked among the NFL leaders in several receiving categories.

On a conference call with the Bay Area media this week, Lloyd was asked what’s changed since his time in San Francisco.

“Nothing,” Lloyd said.

Silence. Followed by more crickets-chirping silence.

Really? Nothing? Lloyd was pressed on the issue. He expanded a bit, but didn’t deviate much on the theme.

“I have the same chip on my shoulder, the same attitude, the same spirit, emotion, passion, everything,” Lloyd said.

A fairly comprehensive list, except it didn’t include the part about him being, you know, really good.

After seven games, Lloyd ranks second in the NFL in receiving yards
(709), has a league-best 14 catches of at least 20 yards and is the first
player in 10 years to average more than 20 yards per catch in his first
seven games (minimum 35 catches).

Lloyd has been so ordinary for so long that it’s hard for the San
Francisco faithful to mutter about one that got away. After the
Niners dealt him to Washington for third- and fourth-round picks in 2006, he
had 20 catches in 12 starts. The next season, he had two catches and was
inactive for a game for missing team meetings.

Asked to explain his unlikely renaissance — with one more catch this
season he’ll match his combined total of 36 from 2007-09 — he offered
this, “One, I have a coach that believes in my talent and, two, I have a
coach that’s given me the opportunity to use it.”

Given Lloyd’s me-first reputation through the years, it’s likely some of
his previous employers won’t agree with his assessment. But Lloyd’s
unique perspective was obvious when he was asked about being traded by
the 49ers.

“I got traded for,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t get traded. There are two ways to look at it.”

• Of the eight NFL teams to play a regular-season game in London — San
Francisco and Denver included — the 49ers are one of three (Saints,
Chargers) to spend the entire week in England prior to kickoff. The
Broncos will arrive early Friday morning, the latest any team has
touched down prior to the game.

If the body clock of Justin Smith and some other 49ers are any
indication, San Francisco’s decision to fully acclimate could pose a
significant advantage.

“Yeah, I think it’s taken a few days,” Smith said today, the Niners’
fourth day in England. “I think guys are just now getting to normal a
little bit.”

• When the 49ers arrive home Monday, they will have traveled
roughly 13,000 miles in an 11-day span, more than 12 NFL teams will
travel this season.

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