Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
Could the veteran presence of Brandon Lloyd be enough to factor into the 49ers offense?
Brandon Lloyd, Wide Receiver
Following the acquisitions at wide receiver the 49ers made during the 2014 NFL draft, Brandon Lloyd's chances of making the 53-man roster would have looked slim at best.
Consider his placement behind incumbents Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Quinton Patton—along with additions Stevie Johnson and Bruce Ellington—and it looked as if San Francisco's signing of Lloyd was merely an insurance policy against acquiring receivers in the draft.
Now, the crop of wideouts is stacked, which lends little chance for the 32-year-old—who took a year off from football in 2013—to make an impact on the final roster.
But there have been a few aspects that not only keep Lloyd relevant, but make him a factor when determining the final wide receiver depth chart.
First, the 49ers would like to see their offense improve in the red zone. Lloyd is a substantial factor in this regard—19 of his 35 career touchdowns have come within the 20-yard line.
On top of that, Lloyd has had an impressive offseason regimen with San Francisco.
His OTA session were impressive, as per Karl Buscheck of Bay Sports Net, who touted the reception Lloyd has been receiving from his teammates.
According to their praises, Lloyd still possesses great burst and speed and looks nothing like having taken a year off from football.
So at the end of the discussion, where does all this factor into where Lloyd ends up?
Kevin Lynch of SF Gate points out some obvious problems when it comes to adding Lloyd to the roster. He writes:
The 49ers already have starters in Boldin and Crabtree, free-agent acquisition Johnson, promising second-year player Quinton Patton and rookie fourth-round choice Ellington. That’s five receivers without Lloyd. Then, the team has to consider Kassim Osgood, who is a special teams ace in wide receiver’s clothing. Despite his auspicious start, Lloyd comes with baggage. He took a year off, so will be motivated during training camp rigors, or when the ball doesn’t come his way? His poor blocking is also concern on a run-driven team.
There is a logjam at this position. It is hard to consider the 49ers parting ways with players like Patton, Johnson or Ellington at this point. Crabtree and Boldin are essentially guaranteed spots.
That makes Lloyd a sixth wideout at best.
Now there is Greg Roman's assertion the 49ers will pass more, which gives Lloyd a better shot. But Lloyd still has a bit of an uphill battle.
Perhaps this is where Lloyd's value comes into play.
For starters, Johnson has been limited thanks to a hamstring injury per Mike Florio of NBC Sports. This could open up the door for Lloyd at the start of the season if the injury lingers.
Then there is Ellington. Ellington is not guaranteed a roster spot—few rookies are—and it is plausible to envision a scenario where Lloyd gets plenty of early season reps while Ellington hones his craft under the tutelage of some of the older members of this unit.
Plus, one can factor in Lloyd's contributions in the red zone. If he can showcase this ability in the preseason, his roster stock would continue to be very high.
Prediction: Lloyd appears safe to make the roster, at least at the start of the season. There are no guarantees to whether or not he stays, but given a nice rapport developed with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers' coaching staff is convinced he is deserving of a job.
Alternate: There really is not any other alternative, sans Jon Baldwin, and that one is grim at best. If Lloyd doesn't make the roster, San Francisco will likely keep one of their special teamers in his place.
Which players do you feel will just miss the cut? Which ones barely get by onto the roster for Week 1? Chime in on the comments section and speak your mind!
All records, statistics and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated. Contractual information courtesy of Spotrac.com.
Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers. Be sure to check out his entire archive on 49ers news, insight and analysis.
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