His season ended with him on the inactive list with an illness. That was three weeks after he lost his starting job following a December loss to the Atlanta Falcons, when he tossed his helmet late in the game in frustration.
That kind of performance would prompt embarrassment, shock, resolve or introspection from many athletes, especially those who have a lucrative, long-term contract.
Yesterday in his first interview since December, Lloyd said, “I have no idea” when asked why his numbers plummeted in 2006 from the previous two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (91 catches, 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns).
“That’s what happened,” said the 26-year-old receiver. “I can’t control that now. It just happened. I don’t know.”
However, Lloyd’s strenuous offseason apparently wasn’t prompted by his abysmal fall, but rather by his relative lack of shape in previous summers.
“I just wanted to be stronger and faster and getting bigger was kind of a byproduct,” said Lloyd, who added eight pounds to a thin frame that’s listed as 6-foot, 200 pounds. “I worked out six days a week at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. with a personal trainer. I never worked out in the offseason [in the past]. I wanted to be in better shape coming into [May’s organized team activities]. I’m not using this camp to get in shape [like] I did in the past.”
Lloyd also started this camp as a backup not only to 2005 Pro Bowl selection Santana Moss but also to fellow 2006 addition Antwaan Randle El.
Al Saunders, who has coached Hall of Famers Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner as well as Wes Chandler, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce said Lloyd “has as much talent catching the ball as probably any guy I’ve been around.”
But that’s not good enough now.
“Antwaan is the starter right now, and Brandon is backing him up because that’s the way it ended last year,” Saunders said.
Moss said that he hasn’t lost faith in Lloyd.
“Brandon knows what he can do,” Moss said. “The team knows what he can do. I’ve seen it. We just have to give the man a chance. They saw something in him when he was in San Fran to have him over here and now it’s up to us to use that. When you’re not the feature guy at times, it kind of [stinks]. I went through that in New York. The team had a chance to learn him and he had a chance to learn what the team expects. He’s looking forward, not looking behind.”