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Lloyd gives 49ers down-field threat

Before the 49ers signed Brandon Lloyd in the offseason, offensive coordinator Greg Roman put together a reel of plays — perhaps 80-90 in total — the veteran receiver had made over his career.

“What showed up continuously was how good he was outside the numbers, contorting his body, making plays wherever he has played,” Jim Harbaugh said Monday. “And he’s special the way he keeps his feet in bounds. … Can’t recall seeing one better than the (catch) he made in (Sunday’s) ballgame.”

That catch, in which Lloyd out-leaped Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith, gained 29 yards and was the 49ers’ only third-down conversion in the second half. Lloyd also had a 38-yard catch on the opposite sideline earlier in the game, this time against cornerback Marcus Cooper

Lloyd’s three catches on the afternoon doubled his production for the season. They also were rare for a 49ers wide receiver, who don’t typically run a lot of deep routes and infrequently have the ball thrown to them down the sidelines. That’s normally the domain of tight end Vernon Davis, who has missed all or parts of four games this season and who was on the sideline Sunday with a back injury.

Lloyd’s 38-yard catch was the longest by a 49ers wide receiver this season and the second longest pass play by the 49ers this year. Only Frank Gore’s 55-yard catch and run in Week 4 — in which the ball traveled only a few yards across the line of scrimmage — was longer.

“He’s a great receiver,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said after the game. “He has a proven track record. And he’s been talking to me that we need to take a shot and he’s going to go up and get it. So at some point you have to trust them and just give them a chance.”

At age 33, Lloyd isn’t going to outrace defensive backs down field. But his body control and leaping ability give the 49ers a big-play option when the defense stacks the line of scrimmage to stuff the run, which was the case at times on Sunday. That’s likely the main reason Roman, whose biggest challenge since joining the 49ers three years ago has been figuring out ways to create more running room, advocated signing Lloyd.

Harbaugh normally steers well clear of comparisons, but he agreed that Lloyd’s ability was reminiscent of former Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann, whose down-field acrobatics were commonplace when Pittsburgh was winning championships in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“That’s a fair comparison,” he said.

Another item to note when it comes to 49ers and their pass catchers: On Sunday, Kaepernick completed passes to eight different receivers, and the 49ers have had a different receiving yards leader in four of their five games: Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Lloyd.

Furthermore, four different receivers have finished with 75 or more receiving yards in a game this year. Last year at this point, Boldin was the only pass catcher top top 75 yards in a game.

“Everybody can get the ball,” Harbaugh said of the team’s offense. “That’s the mentality you want your offense to have.”

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, left, catches a pass over Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith (21) during the second half on Sunday. AP PHOTO