SANTA CLARA –- Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd picked an opportune time to show he can still use his high-jumper skills to come down with a remarkable catch every now and then.
Three plays after a successful fake punt in the fourth quarter, Lloyd seemed to be suspended in mid-air for an unusual amount of time to haul down Colin Kaepernick’s pass for a Matrix-like 29-yard reception over Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith.
“I think that was just more of an in-the-game, instinctual kind of play as opposed to something that we’ve practiced,” 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."
In fact, it was a 49ers receiver who introduced the term "alley-oop" into sports. The late R.C. Owens popularized the term, beginning in 1957, with his ability to jump high into the air to bring down Y.A. Tittle passes over unsuspecting defensive backs.
"It’s the quarterback understanding the ability of the pass catcher and putting the ball in position where the guy can make the play," Lloyd said. "I think it was more of just a feel for how he was playing and Colin throwing the ball to where I could catch it and the DB couldn’t make the play.”
Smith is not just any cornerback. At 6 foot 3, Smith is among the tallest cornerbacks in the NFL. Lloyd (6-foot) was a two-time Missouri high school state champion in the high jump with a personal-best of 7-2.
And Lloyd told his quarterback he thought he detected a weakness in Smith, a six-year professional.
“He had said that he thought 21 (Smith) was hurt, thought we could take a shot and gave him a chance,” Kaepernick said. “He made an amazing play.
“He’s a great receiver. 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.”
Lloyd, 33, an 11-year professional, had his best game since coming off a one-year hiatus to try to resume his playing career. He caught three passes for 76 yards. In the 49ers’ first four games, Lloyd was declared inactive once and had just three receptions for three yards in the other three games.
“I think we’re still developing our confidence and our chemistry with all levels of routes,” Lloyd said. “The short routes, the intermediate routes and the deep routes.”
Lloyd’s 29-yard catch was a key play with the 49ers trailing 17-16. It set Phil Dawson up for his fourth of five field goals, giving the 49ers a 19-17 lead with 8:46 remaining. The 49ers improved to 3-2 on the season with their second victory in a row.
"(I) thought it was an important call, important play in the game," Harbaugh said. "(It was a) strong, important win for our team. Thought it was a great team win. Thought the players really excelled in all phases today, against a really good football team."