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LONDON -- After three mediocre seasons with the 49ers, receiver Brandon Lloyd found similar disappointment in Washington and Chicago.

Now, suddenly, he's piling up yards as if making up for lost time. Heading into Sunday's game at Wembley Stadium, the Denver Broncos receiver has 709 receiving yards and an NFL-best 11 catches of 25 yards or more.

What's different between this Lloyd and the one who played for the 49ers?

"Nothing," he insisted.

He isn't Lloyd of London yet -- the Broncos don't arrive overseas until today -- but the receiver consented to a conference call with Bay Area reporters this week in advance of facing his old team.

Lloyd played for the 49ers from 2003 to 2005 and led the team with 733 yards during his final season. He had a knack for making the occasional highlight-reel play -- but not much else.

49ers coaches questioned Lloyd's attitude, and so did his teammates. Fullback Fred Beasley once told reporters that the receiver was more concerned with "bling bling" than with playing football.

After the '05 season, the 49ers traded him to Washington for two draft picks.

"I wasn't traded," Lloyd corrected, playfully. "I was traded for. There are always two ways of looking at things."

But things went badly with the Redskins (who released him after two seasons) and with the Chicago Bears (who made no effort to re-sign him).


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In Denver, however, Lloyd has found his oasis. He said he loves the smarts and accuracy of quarterback Kyle Orton, whom he called "a Josh on the field."

The Josh on the sideline would be Josh McDaniels, the Broncos' offensive-minded head coach. Lloyd said in Daniels he has a coach for the first time who "has given me space to be who I am and then trusting me to do the right thing with that space."

The transformation is startling: Lloyd is the first player to average more than 20 yards per catch over a season's first seven games since Isaac Bruce did it in 2000 (minimum 35 catches).

Lloyd's six catches of 40 yards or more are the most in the NFL this season, one ahead of Pittsburgh deep threat Mike Wallace.

Lloyd's breakout season has not escaped the notice of 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

"He's just playing with a lot of confidence right now," he said. "He feels comfortable in the system, and we've got to make sure we take that away from him."

  • Counting preseason games, no NFL team has played more games on foreign soil than the 49ers. This marks their 10th game, a total that spans six countries. The 49ers have played in Japan (1989, '95 and '02), the United Kingdom (1998, '92), Germany ('91), Spain ('93), Canada ('98) and Mexico ('05).

    The Dallas Cowboys are second with nine international games. The Broncos match the 49ers' total by playing in six countries. Denver has traveled to Australia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Spain and the UK.

  • 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (ankle) sat out practice for a second consecutive day. Earlier this week, coach Mike Singletary did not list Davis among the players in jeopardy of missing playing time.

    Davis has a touchdown catch in four consecutive games. His 17 touchdowns since the start of last season are the most among tight ends.

  • Also on the injury report were running back Anthony Dixon (hamstring), cornerback Nate Clements (ankle) and cornerback Tarell Brown (back). They participated in practice only on a limited basis.

  • Wet weather all week could result in a soggy field at Wembley Stadium. That's fine with the 49ers, who wouldn't mind a test of ground games.

  • Left tackle Joe Staley said the stinger he sustained against the Panthers last week was a shot to his funny bone. "I couldn't feel my arm," he said, smiling. "I thought I was paralyzed."

  • The 49ers re-signed safety Chris Maragos to the practice squad.

  • Fans can begin voting to select players for the Pro Bowl at NFL.com/probowl. Balloting concludes Dec. 20.

    For more on the 49ers, see Daniel Brown's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Email dbrown@mercurynews.com