The San Francisco 49ers have spent this offseason looking into free agent wide receivers such as Julian Edelman, Emmanuel Sanders and Hakeem Nicks. One of the reasons for their interest stems from the fact that the futures of Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin are in doubt beyond the 2014 season.
Crabtree will be a free agent, and while Boldin is signed for 2015, his cap number will increase significantly in year two of his contract. It’s unknown if the 49ers will be willing (or able) to pay him. While signing a receiver who could fill a need for the next few seasons makes sense, signing a stopgap does not. That’s why the 49ers’ interest in Brandon Lloyd is so puzzling.
Crabtree and Boldin are the unquestioned starters and will play the majority of the snaps. Even if San Francisco’s run-heavy offensive approach shifts to more of a passing attack in 2014, there will still be limited opportunities for other wide receivers. Wouldn’t it be better to give those looks to a young player like Quinton Patton or a rookie who will be inevitably brought into the fold?
You can see why Lloyd, who played with the 49ers from 2003-2005, might be intriguing. He has shown signs of being an impact player and gained 1,448 yards while scoring 11 touchdowns during a career year for the Denver Broncos in 2010. But despite what he can do on the field, Lloyd found himself without a team in 2013. Looking deeper, he was on six different teams in 10 NFL seasons from 2003-2012.
The fact that he could not stick on a roster speaks to how he is viewed off the field. With some of the recent issues the 49ers have had with Chris Culliver, Aldon Smith, etc., do they really want another questionable personality in their locker room?
In the end, the 49ers would be best suited to pass on Lloyd and make an investment in Patton or a receiver taken in the 2014 draft. Lloyd won’t provide much of anything beyond this upcoming season, and the 49ers need to start looking to the future at wideout.