Should the San Francisco 49ers Re-Sign Wide Receiver Brandon Lloyd?

Peter PanacyCorrespondent IApril 10, 2014

The 49ers are reported to have interest in bringing back veteran wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.
The 49ers are reported to have interest in bringing back veteran wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.Elise Amendola

The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly in discussions with 10-year veteran wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.

This news, which was first broken by Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area citing multiple sources, states that the 49ers have engaged in talks with the one-time 49er draftee on a possibility of resurrecting his career in San Francisco.

Lloyd, who did not play at all last season, enjoyed his best career year in 2010 when he recorded 77 receptions for a league-leading 1,448 receiving yards along with four touchdowns.

Lloyd also enjoyed some success with the New England Patriots in 2012 when he notched 911 receiving yards as a prime target for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Lloyd spent three seasons with the 49ers after the team drafted him in 2003.
Lloyd spent three seasons with the 49ers after the team drafted him in 2003.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

During his career, Lloyd has spent time with six teams.  Darin Gantt of NBC Sports suggests there is a reason why Lloyd has been so well-traveled, yet he implies that the 49ers could provide him with a safe haven of sorts if a reunion is imminent.

The news of these talks begs the question—should the 49ers consider bringing back Lloyd to the place where his NFL career started?

Lloyd started his career in San Francisco.  A fourth-round pick in the 2003 NFL draft, Lloyd had one decent year with the 49ers—2005 when he recorded 733 receiving yards—before being traded to the Washington Redskins after the season.

Another facet, in addition to the reasons behind him playing for so many teams, is the fact that Lloyd will turn 33 years old before the start of the 2014-15 season.

While veteran presence is always a bonus, one cannot overlook the fact that San Francisco already has an aging wideout on its roster, Anquan Boldin.

Considering the current nature of the 49ers' incumbent receiving corps, it is difficult to fathom general manager Trent Baalke bringing in yet another aging veteran to bolster a receiving group that ranked No. 30 in passing yards last season.

Lloyd had an impressive 10-catch, 190-yard performance against the 49ers when he was with the New England Patriots in 2012.
Lloyd had an impressive 10-catch, 190-yard performance against the 49ers when he was with the New England Patriots in 2012.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

There should be no question that Lloyd could contribute.  His last three active seasons—2010 through 2012—Lloyd averaged 1,108 receiving yards.  Yet the fact remains that Lloyd sat out all of 2013 despite multiple teams' interest.

Back on September 11, 2013, Mike Florio of NBC Sports pointed out that Lloyd had rejected at least six offers from NFL teams including the Patriots and 49ers.  Florio suggested that Lloyd had no interest, either mentally or physically, in continuing to play at the NFL level.

What this means moving forward, and in the wake of these recent discussions, is unclear.  Although common thought may suggest that Lloyd has changed his mind.

Have the 49ers changed theirs?

If a one-time rejection last season was not enough to dissuade San Francisco from executing a similar transaction again, general manager Trent Baalke should consider what the team already has going forward along with possible draft-day additions.

Currently, the 49ers should expect a lot from incumbent receivers like Boldin and Michael Crabtree.  Wideout Quinton Patton expects to be in the mix for a No. 3 job, and there is also last year's trade acquisition Jon Baldwin in the mix.

While adding Lloyd would certainly spark some competition within San Francisco's depth chart, one has to wonder whether or not this move would thwart the chances of players like Patton to continue his development a year removed from his rookie season.

Regardless of who winds up being the No. 3 receiver for the 49ers in 2014, one cannot overlook the fact that head coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers are not a team typically known for utilizing three-receiver sets.

Bill Williamson of points out that San Francisco was last in the league last year when it came to using three receivers on offense—only 205 snaps.

Yet Williamson also suggests that the recent offseason interest in veteran wideouts like Julian Edelman and Hakeem Nicks could be an indication that the 49ers offense would like to move more into the direction of having three receivers on the line more frequently.

Harbaugh pointed this out via Doug Williams of NBC Bay Area:

(We need) a third guy who can get open and make plays, another option for the quarterback to go to, a chance to attack all areas of the field.  A playmaker.  That’s what we’re looking for.

That's all fine and dandy, but why would the 49ers be interested in making such a move when one considers the approach likely to be taken in the 2014 draft?

As things stand right now, San Francisco holds 11 picks in the 2014 NFL draft—six of which fall in the top 100 per CBS Sports.

Additionally, this year's pool of wide receiver prospects is unusually deep—giving the 49ers plenty of options when it comes to getting younger and cheaper at such a vital, playmaking position.

Does the reported interest in Lloyd suggest that San Francisco has limited confidence in a rookie wideout supplying an immediate impact for the offense in 2014?

Perhaps it does.  Or, it at least suggests that the 49ers may not be looking for a rookie to contribute immediately.  Rather, any drafted receiver would have to compete to earn a high spot on the wide receiver depth chart. 

More importantly, this approach would suggest the 49ers would be hoping for a young, dynamic receiver to have substantial impact when, and if, receivers like Boldin and Crabtree are no longer with the 49ers.

The 32-year-old Lloyd can contribute.  But can he contribute to the level and, more importantly, the duration for which the 49ers are seeking?

A reunion with Lloyd is hard to fathom from the 49ers' perspective.
A reunion with Lloyd is hard to fathom from the 49ers' perspective.Robert B. Stanton/Getty Images

That answer is almost assuredly no.

Lloyd is not the receiver San Francisco should be targeting.  They have the draft to execute such a move, and they have Patton to compete for the No. 3 slot with whatever receiver(s) the 49ers pick up.

Even if Lloyd was brought in at a bargain price solely to provide competition, one has to consider that San Francisco already has the options to establish this competition come training camp.

Perhaps the talk is nothing more than smoke and mirrors at this point, but it is hard to fathom this deal being anything more than just a feeler.


All statistics and accolades courtesy of unless otherwise indicated.


Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.