Lloyd passing on begging for ball

Brandon Lloyd was given an opportunity this week to moan and groan about being a No. 1 receiver who ranks only fourth on his team in receptions after two games. He didn't take the bait.

Instead, Lloyd talked of the virtues brought by the extra attention and double coverage he has received from opponents so far during the 49ers' 0-2 start.

"There's positive things going on on the field," Lloyd said. "They're going to have to play us honest eventually. Putting two guys out there on the outside leaves holes for Kevan (Barlow) to shoot through. Our linemen are getting second-level blocks. Curtis Conway, single coverage. I mean, they're going to eventually have to start playing us straight up because everybody can make plays out there."

Last year, the 49ers' No. 1 receiver would only have been worried about himself making plays. And, certainly, Terrell Owens would not be talking about positive things happening on the field if he had just five receptions for 36 yards entering the team's final game of September – Lloyd's numbers entering Sunday's game against the Seahawks in Seattle.

The 49ers of 2004 are throwing to the open receiver instead of forcing the ball to their top target, as they often did last year, to the detriment of both the offense and the team.

Lloyd just smiles and says, "It hasn't been difficult (to be patient) at all. Once they start playing us honest and I get my single coverage, that's when I get my opportunity to shine."

Owens would have been crying for the ball and causing disruption. But that's the difference between now and then.

When asked how destructive it can be when one receiver is demanding the ball regardless of what the defense is giving, Lloyd responded, "That's pretty difficult. You saw what happened to (the Niners) last year. I don't think I need to get up here and explain that."

"We got rid of that," Lloyd continued. "We got rid of those issues. We're a complete team now. We can do everything. We're a complete offense."

Despite the winless start, there's some truth behind those words. The 49ers, expected to struggle on offense this season – particularly in the early going – with seven new starters, are ranked eighth in the NFL in total offense with a balanced attack that features a strong ground game and improving passing attack.

The Niners also have balance in their passing game with tight end Eric Johnson ranking fourth in the NFC with a team-high receptions and Curtis Conway and Cedrick Wilson – the starters opposite Lloyd the past two weeks – enjoying early success by taking advantage of the double-team coverages that have been going Lloyd's way.

Conway is 15th in the conference with 10 catches after grabbing eight receptions last week in New Orleans, when he constantly slipped free from single coverage. Wilson, who missed last week's game with a hamstring injury, had seven receptions in the opener.

"Brandon seems to be taking it well," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said. "We're not going to cater to anybody. We're going to throw the football where it needs to be thrown. We're going to run it when it needs to be run and we're going to do whatever it takes to win. Brandon has dealt with that and he'll get his chances."

Actually, Lloyd considers it something of a compliment that opponents are rolling safeties his way and giving him so much attention.

"Yeah, kind of," he said. "I mean, I'm a second-year guy who caught 14 passes last year and I'm getting double-covered? It's kind of a compliment, but at the same time, they're not taking me out of the game because they're better than me. They're taking me out with their coverage."

So Lloyd will just wait until opportunities come his way. And you won't hear him bitching about it. That's a quality bound to help the youth and inexperience in San Francisco's revamped offense, not to mention developing quarterbacks Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey.

"Well, you don't have that kind of selfish behavior anymore," Lloyd said. "It's a team game and it's a team concept. Everything about this sport requires another man's help, another 10 men's help, to accomplish your goal. Now it's kind of like the quarterback can just play – hit the open man, and the other guys can be happy because they know they're going to get the ball and they know their work is going to pay off out there on the field."


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