Barlow jumps on Lloyd-bashing bandwagon

What is it that the 49ers' starting backfield has against Brandon Lloyd? Quite a bit, apparently. Now it's tailback Kevan Barlow piling on the second-year receiver, a day after fullback Fred Beasley opened the floodgates by blasting Lloyd with some pointed remarks.

But Barlow's criticism came from a different angle than Beasley, who on Wednesday questioned the professionalism, commitment and desire to win of some of the team's younger players. Beasley didn't refer to Lloyd by name, but he made it clear who he was talking about.

Barlow didn't mention names, either. But he responded directly with remarks about Lloyd when he was asked Thursday if he agreed with Beasley's comments from the day before.

But while Beasley talked in general terms of young receivers who, instead of sharing Beasley's winning mentality, have the mentality of "how much money they make and how long their braids are, how much bling-bling they can wear," Barlow was much more specific.

He lashed into Lloyd for comments he made during training camp, when Lloyd talked about the negative impact Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens had on the team last year while suggesting the Niners might be better off without Owens' me-first attitude and disruptive personality.

"He shouldn't even be saying we're a better team without T.O.," Barlow said. "How are we a much better team without T.O. when we're 1-6? You're not doing what he's doing, so you shouldn't make that comment. You shouldn't be saying nothing about that, especially if you're not stepping in, filling his shoes and doing what he did. All you should do is just go out there, work hard, work by example, and then put T.O. to rest."

Barlow didn't quite stop there.

"If we're a better team without T.O., then you need to step in and do what T.O. (did) or don't say nothing at all," he said. "That's how I feel. That's out of respect. You don't call people out, call other players out, especially that you're in the locker room with. But then, you talk stuff behind their back. But then, when they're here, and they pop up out of the blue, you want to talk to them. I just don't like that. That's not being a man, that's being a girl."

Wait, there's more…

"My thing is, if you're going to call somebody out, then you should step up to the challenge and make us forget about that guy. But other than that, if you haven't proven yourself on this level, then you shouldn't say nothing at all. You should just be quiet, come to work, and do your job and then make us forget about T.O. Don't say we're a better team without T.O. We're 1-6, and we don't have any T.O. on this team at receiver or running back. So, don't say nothing."

Lloyd, a fourth-round draft pick last year, was expected to step into the void left by Owens as San Francisco's No. 1 receiver this year. But he got off to a slow start – five receptions for just 36 yards in San Francisco's first two games – then missed two games with groin problems.

But since then, Lloyd has emerged as the top target among the team's wideouts. Lloyd has led the 49ers in receptions each of their past two games, and he has led the team's wideouts in catches the past three games. He ranks fourth on the team – third among wide receivers – with 21 receptions for 248 yards and two touchdowns.

Of course, those numbers pale in any comparison to Owens, who led the 49ers in receiving each of the past four seasons, recording 51 touchdown catches during that span and reaching the Pro Bowl each year.

Even with Lloyd coming on, San Francisco's young corps of receivers has struggled to make big plays this year without Owens around.

"I don't think nobody should say nothing about nobody on this team," Barlow said. "Until you make the Pro Bowl, or you do what he did - then you can say something. But if you (haven't done) nothing yet, or haven't done what he did, then don't say nothing. I don't care who you are on this team. Just go out there and lead by example and work hard. Go out there, show you can make us forget about people. Don't just go calling people out. That's not cool."

Lloyd declined to respond to Barlow's comments. On Wednesday, Lloyd had responded to Beasley's criticism by saying, "We're all frustrated, that's all it is."

So, to summarize: Beasley, the Pro Bowl fullback and one of the team's top veteran leaders, calls out the flashy young receiver. Then Barlow, who has had a volatile relationship with Beasley in their time with the 49ers, jumps on the Lloyd-bashing bandwagon and rips Lloyd for some calling out he did three months ago.

This is starting to get out of hand.

But coach Dennis Erickson downplayed the brewing turmoil Thursday, calling Beasley's comments "a very small issue."

Erickson also said he's not worried about any internal strife or losing atmosphere plaguing a team that's off to its worst start since 1979.

"Nobody's used to losing," he said. "We haven't won football games, and we need to win football games. We've had some opportunities. We have nine games left. We are going to keep battling, and there's not anybody in that locker room that doesn't want to do that."

But apparently, there are some guys in that locker room willing to battle with each other.


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