Catching up with Brandon Lloyd

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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.

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”

 

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”