Once again, Brandon Lloyd sort of saves the day. The San Francisco 49ers found themselves trailing the St. Louis Rams 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. Phil Dawson kicked a field goal midway through the second quarter to cut the lead to 14-3, but the 49ers offense seemed only mildly interested in pressuring the Rams. In the final two minutes of the first half, the 49er faced a 3rd and 6 on their own 20. I don't know about you, but I expected something fairly basic to avoid a turnover and just get into the half.
And then this happened....
There was a whole half to play, but it is easy to look at that play as the big momentum shift the 49ers needed. After that touchdown, the 49ers put up 21 second half points, outscoring the Rams 31-3 after the first quarter.
There is plenty to unwrap from that touchdown, but I came across one interesting note from Pro Football Reference. This play marked the 49ers first 80-yard passing touchdown since 2005. On that play, Tim Rattay threw an 80-yard touchdown to.....you guessed it, Brandon Lloyd.
This isn't exactly book-ending his career, but it's sort of fitting that Lloyd came back with this touchdown. Last week, Lloyd put on a solid performance with three receptions for 76 yards and a crazy athletic reception to help the 49ers in their 22-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. This week, he only had one catch, but it was probably the most important catch of the game.
I said last week that I was just a little bit wrong when I said throughout the offseason and preseason that Lloyd likely would not make the roster. This is one of those times I remain happy to be wrong. Lloyd is not a guy the 49ers will go to as a workhorse receiver. That is more suited for Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. But Lloyd and Stevie Johnson are providing the kind of depth we have not seen on the 49ers roster in a long time.
This is the deepest group since at least 1998, when Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens and J.J. Stokes each had 60+ receptions, and Rice and Owens surpassed 1,000 yards. It is entirely possible this year's 49ers roster will not have a 1,000-yard receiver. In fact, I'd say the odds are probably fairly slim of that happening. But it will be because Colin Kaepernick has so many weapons at his disposal. He has the four receivers, plus Vernon Davis, Bruce Miller and Frank Gore. Davis struggled yesterday, but as his back issue clears up, he should be back in the mix. And while Miller and Gore are not big receiving weapons in the 49ers passing attack, they are still threats to make important plays, as we saw yesterday (or "almost" in Gore's case!).
At times it feels like the 49ers are still finding their way in the passing game. One good thing about this group is that even if one guy is quiet, another is stepping up. And as we saw yesterday, all four made important plays. Boldin hauled in a ridiculous 11-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick (more on that, later). People were dogging Crabtree early in the game, but then he absolutely embarrassed the Rams corner (I think Janoris Jenkins) on this touchdown. And while Stevie did not have a huge game, he was once again a very solid presence for Kap.
Isn't it nice having a full contingent of really solid wide receivers?