By Tyler Emerick | Digital Media 49ers.com
Brandon Lloyd knew he had an edge on Sean Smith.
The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver saw a weakness in the Kansas City Chiefs cornerback and promptly relayed his intel back to the huddle.
Lloyd’s message was simple: Throw him the ball and he’d make a play.
“He had said that he thought 21 (Smith) was hurt,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said, “thought we could take a shot… At some point you have to trust them and just give them a chance.
“He’s a great receiver and he made an amazing play.”
On a critical 3rd-and-10 for the 49ers in the fourth quarter, Kaepernick dropped back, looked to his right, scanned back over the field and sent an arching pass down the left sideline.
Lloyd, with Smith tailing stride for stride, leaped over his 6-foot-3 defender and muscled away the ball on the way to the ground for a drive-extending 29-yard gain.
“I wasn’t really thinking through it, just using instincts,” Lloyd said. “I always like to think of those lobs, whether they’re in the red zone or in the field, as football’s version of the alley-oop. It’s the quarterback understanding the ability of the pass-catcher and putting the ball in position where the guy can make the play.”
Three plays before Lloyd’s highlight-reel grab, the 49ers recorded a first down on a fake punt from their own 29-yard line. Lloyd admitted feeling an extra push of motivation to not let the momentum slip from the team’s grasp.
“Definitely feeling like I needed to step up,” Lloyd said. “Whoever’s number was going to get called, I’m sure that we were all thinking the same thing; that we needed to come through at a crucial point in the game.”
Lloyd’s catch eventually led to Phil Dawson’s fourth of five field goals on the afternoon, one that gave the 49ers the lead for good en route to a 22-17 victory.
“It was a great catch, and it was well defended,” Jim Harbaugh said. “Brandon stopped, leaped and didn’t interfere and really just went from being out-leveraged to jumping and leveraging the ball and making a great play.”
Lloyd made another stellar play earlier on Sunday, diving to catch a pass on the opposite sideline for a 38-yard gain in the second quarter. That grab, too, led to a Dawson field goal.
Lloyd finished his afternoon with a game-high 76 yards receiving on three catches and five targets. The 11-year veteran entered Sunday with just three receptions on nine targets through the first three games of the season.
“I think we’re still developing our confidence and our chemistry with all levels of routes,” Lloyd said of his relationship with Kaepernick. “The stuff in the heat of the battle helps. It all factors in as far as personality and understanding what we’re both capable of.”