Of the many, many reasons to be relieved that the 49ers have parted ways with volatile wide receiver Terrell Owens -- who brought us Sharpie distractions, too many dropped passes, and ever-more-infrequent brilliance -- the best just might be Brandon Lloyd, a 6-foot, 184-pound second-year speedster from the University of Illinois. The 49ers took the unheralded Lloyd last year with the 27th pick in the fourth round, and he didn't get much playing time at wideout with Owens around. But when he did, Lloyd showed flashes that suggested he might be a draft steal, averaging more than 15 yards per catch and turning two of his 14 receptions into touchdowns. In the last game of the season, with an injured Owens watching from the bench, Lloyd made his second incredible circus catch of the year -- perhaps a preview of what's to come, especially since he and new starting quarterback Tim Rattay have an obvious rapport, apparently developed while working together on the scout team. In an era when it's hard to get excited about 49er football, the development of Lloyd promises to be one of the few bright spots.