SANTA CLARA Since he left the 49ers, Brandon Lloyd's hip-hop music career has progressed nicely, the wide receiver said Wednesday. His football career isn't too shabby, either.
The one-time 49ers wideout led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards as a member of the Denver Broncos last year. And he already leads the Rams in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches four after being traded to St. Louis in mid-October.
"He's been terrific," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said during a conference call. "I love the kid as a person tremendous character. He was a shot in the arm for us, energy-wise, just stretching the field and some of the plays that he can make."
Terrific? Tremendous character?
Those aren't descriptions you would have heard from the 49ers when Lloyd played here from 2003-05. Lloyd was viewed as a possible heir to Terrell Owens, who left San Francisco after the 2003 season, but he came close to matching Owens only in roiling a locker room.
He was openly reviled by some of the veterans on the team, notably fullback Fred Beasley and running back Kevan Barlow, for his brash disposition.
He didn't win any friends for famously short-arming a pass during a close game in Chicago in 2005 and then blaming quarterback Cody Pickett afterward. And he was criticized for trying to launch a rap career instead of concentrating on football.
It all led to Lloyd being traded to the Washington Redskins after the 2005 season. He struggled there and at his next stop, Chicago, and it seemed as if Lloyd was destined for the wide receiver scrap heap.
A stint in Denver, however, revitalized his career. The Broncos' coach at the time was Josh McDaniels, who is now the Rams' offensive coordinator. Lloyd has stepped into the lineup in St. Louis and made an immediate impact on a passing game that struggled after losing other wideouts to injuries.
Lloyd, who is in his ninth season, said his skills as a pass catcher were not in doubt earlier in his career. Instead, his people skills "my relationships with teammates, coaches," he said were the problem and are something he's tried to improve in recent seasons.
Lloyd indeed seems to have a better rapport with teammates in St. Louis than he did in San Francisco.
During a conference call with 49ers beat writers Wednesday, he suddenly stopped talking and busted out laughing. Four fellow Rams were doing their best to try to distract him with sophomoric antics.
"They're teasing me over here," Lloyd said between guffaws. "I need to eat, it's after practice. I'm having trouble thinking anyway."
Still, he's not exactly apologizing for the way he acted in San Francisco.
"It's tough as a 23-year-old person when you're giving all your heart and putting everything into your career, and then you're getting criticized by (the media) who have no idea, really, how to do this," he said.
"And then that's compounded by your teammates that you respect and you hope respect you. I felt I kind of got dog-piled on out there. So my natural reaction was to defend myself with words."
The receiver also said he's had no problem juggling a football career with his aspirations to be a rap star. He noted that he recently sold a song to Spike TV for the show "Blue Mountain State."
He also has a licensing deal and a company that manages his hip-hop catalog.
"Actually, since I left San Francisco my hip-hop career has become more successful," Lloyd said. "I don't think it was ever a real distraction. I just think it was something that people would always bring up because I wasn't performing as well as maybe they thought I should be, so they'd come up with that as the excuse."