- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2006

Correctly convinced his team was going nowhere during an early-season meltdown that included losses by 39, 25 and 35 points, Brandon Lloyd called his agent, David Dunn, requesting an immediate exit from the San Francisco 49ers.

But because Lloyd was the 49ers’ best receiver and in-season trades involving quality players are an anomaly, he was told to sit tight and compete.

“David said he wouldn’t talk to me about it until after the season,” Lloyd said. “I remember him saying, ‘Help yourself.’ And the last month, after each game, I was like, ‘Only four left, only three left, only two left …’”

Lloyd did help himself with a team-leading 48 catches, 733 receiving yards and five touchdowns that helped land him on the Washington Redskins via trade and a contract extension that included a $10million signing bonus.

Now Lloyd, along with fellow newcomer Antwaan Randle El, must help jump-start a Redskins passing offense that ranked 21st in the NFL last season with only two real threats (Santana Moss and Chris Cooley).

“Besides [Indianapolis’] Reggie Wayne, I thought Brandon Lloyd was one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL,” Redskins running back Clinton Portis said. “He’s someone who can really help Santana.”

That he’s in a position to help Moss comes as a surprise for Lloyd, 25, who was acquired for a third-round pick this spring and a fourth-round pick next year.

On the sideline for the 49ers’ 52-17 loss to the Redskins last October, Lloyd was impressed with the opportunities Moss and David Patten were given. He wanted to be a part of that.

“[Dunn] told me, ‘I don’t know if [the Redskins] can do it because they have a lot of money tied up in receivers — worry about the other teams,’” Lloyd said. “But when they said they’d do a deal regardless of the CBA, that eliminated everybody.”

Although the Redskins are glad to have Lloyd and he’s giddy to be here, the fact that the 49ers jettisoned their best receiver merits documentation.

According to published reports before Lloyd was traded, several San Francisco defensive players told coach Mike Nolan the team would be better off without him. In early November, Lloyd and Nolan had two private meetings after he criticized quarterback Cody Pickett for a bad throw against Chicago and got into a sideline argument with receivers coach Jerry Sullivan that was televised by FOX.

The next day, Lloyd said, Nolan told him he had thrown Pickett “to the wolves” by calling him out publicly.

Eight months later, Lloyd said, “Coach Nolan threw me under the bus, big time. On that play, if I ran the wrong route, I would have stood up and taken the blame. I didn’t need to be made the scapegoat on that play.”

Redskins defensive end Andre Carter, who was with the 49ers then, said he wasn’t one of the defensive players who met with Nolan about Lloyd.

“It’s tough to say [what happened],” Carter said. “I don’t know what was going on, but day in and day out, what I saw was that he busted his hump to get the job done.”

Lloyd also scoffed at the reputation he got in San Francisco as a player who makes the spectacular look easy but the easy look difficult.

“I made the most of what I had,” he said. “Reporters will say, ‘Brandon didn’t step up, Brandon makes the big play but he drops the ball.’ That’s nonsense. I’ve got the DVD that got me here. The Redskins coaches were studying it, and nobody has it. Every ball that came my way is on that DVD — 129 balls, 49 receptions and six drops …”

Lloyd leaned forward in his chair for emphasis.

“Six! Six! And I gave them two — when I went up high for the ball and it went off my hands. I counted those as drops. Six! … The reputation sticks because people who don’t know the game feel that way. But the people who make the decisions know. That’s why I’m here. They know their stuff.”

Apparently undeterred by the controversy, the Redskins, desperate for a play-making complement to Moss, acquired Lloyd on March 12.

The Redskins hope Lloyd gives them a deep threat opposite Moss and can navigate the middle of the field. Lloyd’s 15.3-yards a catch last year tied for 10th among receivers with at least 45 receptions. Moss was second at 17.7.

“You can’t have too many of those guys,” offensive coordinator Don Breaux said. “When we’ve been really good around here, we’ve had three playmakers at the three receiver positions.”

Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams remembers game-planning for Lloyd last season.

“We thought we had to stop him,” said Williams, whose unit limited Lloyd to two catches for 43 yards. “We thought he was a guy that we had to game plan for because he can make the rare, big play. We knew he was highly capable of igniting their offense with a great catch. He’s got as good a pair of hands and is as athletic when the ball is in the air as any receiver in the league.”

Not bad for a guy who was the 13th receiver drafted in 2004 — behind a group that included Charles Rogers, Bryant Johnson and the Redskins’ Taylor Jacobs. Lloyd has developed into arguably the second-best receiver from that class, behind only Arizona’s Anquan Boldin. Lloyd had 14 catches as a rookie and 43 catches and six touchdowns in 2004.

“When I got drafted, I was put in a good position as far as getting an opportunity to play early,” he said. “Guys that got drafted before me haven’t seen the kind of payday that I saw this time around. If you put the work in, it’ll pay off.”

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