Niner of the Week
Sunday standout: In the best game of his three-year career, Lloyd displayed his usual penchant for picking passes out of the air while also showing game-breaking ability that has become more evident this year than in his first two seasons. Lloyd was a big play waiting to happen throughout the afternoon Sunday as he reeled in receptions of 89, 28, 13 and 12 yards. He averaged 35.5 yards on his four receptions, producing a career-high 142 yards receiving and his first 100-yard game. Lloyd got most of those yards on one play, turning around Dallas cornerback Anthony Henry as he entered his route on a second-and-19 play from the San Francisco 11-yard line, then slipping behind the Dallas secondary. Lloyd caught quarterback Tim Rattay's long bomb in stride at the Dallas 48 and traversed the field as he jaunted into the end zone, out-running Henry, safety Keith Davis and late-arriving cornerback Terence Newman to the end zone to complete the sixth-longest touchdown pass in 49ers history. Lloyd exhibited his smooth-gliding speed on the play as he easily out-raced the Dallas defense to paydirt. He later burned Henry again in one-on-one coverage, plucking Rattay's 13-yard pass out of the air in the left corner of the end zone with 40 seconds remaining in the third quarter to give the 49ers a 31-19 lead entering the fourth period. That gave Lloyd the first two-touchdown game of his career, but he still wasn't quite done yet. After Dallas answered with a quick touchdown to close within 31-26, Lloyd beat Henry again off the line on a third-down play and reached up to clutch a 28-yard reception that moved the 49ers from their own 38-yard line to the edge of field-goal range in Dallas territory. Alas, Rattay was intercepted as he attempted to get a pass to Lloyd again on the next play. Lloyd's other reception – a 12-yarder with 1:08 remaining in the first half – came on a third-and-10 play at the Dallas 23 and extended a San Francisco drive that reached the 1-yard line before the 49ers settled for a field goal. Season to date: Lloyd, San Francisco's leading returning wideout from last year, ranks second on the team behind Arnaz Battle with 10 receptions, and his 224 yards receiving ranks first on the team. Lloyd's 89-yard catch is the longest reception in the NFL so far this season and his 142 yards receiving against the Cowboys ranks among the league's best individual games by a receiver this year. His 22.4 average per catch ranks second in the NFC and third in the NFL among players with 10 receptions or more. Lloyd ranks 17th in the league in receiving yards, and only one player ahead of him on that list has fewer than 12 receptions. Lloyd's three touchdown receptions puts him in a tie for fourth in the NFL in that department with six other players. Need to note: The 89-yard reception is the longest of Lloyd's career, besting his 52-yard catch against St. Louis last December. His previous longest touchdown reception was a 39-yarder against Seattle last season, when Lloyd led the 49ers with six touchdown receptions – a total that was twice as many as any other player on the team. The 89-yarder also was the second-longest reception ever allowed by the Dallas defense. Lloyd's previous single-game best in receiving yards was 93 against the New York Jets last year. In his first full season as a starter last year, Lloyd ranked second among San Francisco wideouts to the departed Cedrick Wilson with 43 receptions and 565 receiving yards. Lloyd says: "It's a wonder what the running game does for the passing game – it really opens things up. (Dallas) really came in with the mentality they were going to be able to bully us in the box and we started making plays. I just give credit to (receivers coach) Jerry Sullivan. He really got us prepared well with a lot of film study (last) week. We go into every game with the same preparation and we're ready to go when Sundays come around. When our number gets called, we're ready to play. I was able to make some plays, but it's still a loss. That's the bottom line. And it's a tough one, man." Looking ahead: The impact of Lloyd's big game against the Cowboys should linger the rest of the season as opposing defenses must be wary of his ability to get open and beat single coverage. The Cowboys resorted to doubling Lloyd and cheating a safety to his side as the game progressed, and that should open more opportunities for Battle and the team's other receivers, while also giving the 49ers more chances to get their running game clicking like they finally did against Dallas. ALSO CONSIDERED: SS Tony Parrish (game-high nine tackles, two interceptions, one returned 34 yards for a touchdown). PREVIOUS NOTW LIST: Week 1: DE Bryant Young. Week 2: P Andy Lee.
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