San Francisco 49ers

49ers notes: Kaepernick hopes veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd can help solve red-zone issues

Brandon Lloyd, known for acrobatic catches in his first stint with the 49ers, had another Wednesday when he made a sliding touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone on a pass from Colin Kaepernick.

The play signaled a growing rapport between the quarterback and veteran wide receiver, whom the 49ers acquired in April. It also came during a red-zone drill, something the 49ers will emphasize during the long tune-up before the season begins.

“I think that’s something that we know we’ve struggled with here – the red zone,” Kaepernick said. “And that’s something we’re constantly trying to improve. And (Lloyd’s) had success down there. So if there’s something we can pick up from him, how he runs routes, how he sets things up, that’s something we want to take and try to make it ours.”

The 49ers’ two most recent seasons ended with failed red-zone passes from Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end zone. Coach Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers have been spending 35 percent to 40 percent of the recent practices inside the 20-yard line, which is slightly more than in previous seasons.

The 49ers brought in two veteran receivers – Lloyd and Stevie Johnson – to help solve their woes close to the goal line. Johnson is dealing with a minor injury and did not take part in Wednesday’s organized team activity session. But he has been working with Kaepernick and others since the 49ers traded for him earlier this month.

“Kap said it the other day – he feels like he has a stable of receivers now,” Harbaugh said. “ And maybe that’s the first time we’ve said that since we’ve all been here together. And I concur. It feels that way.”

Kaepernick said there is an advantage to having two more veterans.

“I think that’s something, with both of them, it’s been a pretty easy learning curve for me to read their body language,” he said. “Because they’re like Anquan (Boldin), like Crab, in that they have easy body language to read – when they’re going to come out of their breaks – and they do things so smoothly that it makes it a lot easier on the quarterback.”

Lattimore runs – Marcus Lattimore was among the running backs taking carries in Wednesday’s session, and “every day, he looks a little bit better than the day before,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh said Lattimore, a fourth-round pick a year ago, is coming back from a hamstring strain but that he hasn’t had any issues with his surgically repaired right knee.

Starter Frank Gore did not participate and second-round pick Carlos Hyde was attending a rookie event in Los Angeles. That left Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Jewel Hampton and Lattimore to handle running back duties.

Et cetera – Among the absences were right guard Alex Boone, who wants a new contract, and tight end Vernon Davis, who also has not been working out at the team facility and who forfeited a $200,000 workout bonus because of it. It is not known whether Davis is unhappy with his contract.