The 49ers wide receiver position has its share of question marks, and one play we're all trying to figure out is Ricardo Lockette. The former undrafted free agent is well-known for his speed, but two seasons into his career, he's trying to prove he can handle the rest of the skills required to become a consistent option in the passing game.
Shortly after the 49ers wrapped up their preseason opener, I received an email from Phil Campbell of 40speed.com. Campbell worked with Lockette to prepare for the Combine, and it's safe to say he was wowed by Lockette's gifts. According to Campbell, Lockette is one of only two player he has seen clock a sub-4.3 40-yard dash (Jabari Greer's brother was the other).
Campbell said that Lockette came to him with significant natural speed, but technical deficiencies. According to Campbell, Lockette came to him having won the 200-meter dash in the Division II nationals. In two training sessions, Lockette was consistently clocking sub-4.3s. More importantly, Campbell sees Lockette as a guy who can clock in the 4.3 range even when conditions are bad.
Campbell broken down some of what he works on with players:
I work with athletes on linear and lateral speed as a base, but spend most of the time on functional speed because you don't play sports in a straight line. With fast receivers, we work on traditional moves to get off the line with pressing DBs. Lockette is different. He is so fast, teaching him traditional break away moves at the line just wastes time because he so big and fast, he can simply out run the press from the get go.
Given the ridiculous speed Lockette can produce (4.34 at the Combine, previously clocked under 4.3), it is not surprise that people are intrigued by his potential. He's in a tough competition at wide receiver, so as we move forward through the preseason, I thought I'd take a look at his performance each week.
In week 1 of the preseason, Lockette made a big play on special teams, and while he did not catch any passes, he still managed to help the team convert a pair of third downs.
The special teams play might qualify as one of the highlights of the game. The 49ers had to punt from their own 41, and Colton Schmidt booted one that appeared set to go into the end zone. And then Trindon Holliday made a decision he would regret:
Lockette was in the gunner role on this play, and had little trouble getting past the two defenders attempting to slow him down. The ball is just outside the picture frame as Holliday prepares to catch it. Here's what happened next:
Lockette was in on 12 plays with the 49ers offense. He was targeted twice, once on 3rd and 16, and once on 3rd and 10. In both plays, Lockette was able to draw a pass interference penalty. The latter penalty saw him make a cut out shortly after the line of scrimmage, and then cut back inside. The defender got a hand on Lockette as he cut back in and it was a fairly easy call.
The pass interference on 3rd and 16 saw Lockette running some kind of corner route. The defender got mixed up with him and Lockette sold it fairly well, going down with arms all over the place. The announcers were not sure it was pass interference, but looking at this picture, it sort of looks like the defensive back's right hand is grabbing Lockette. I'm not positive, but I can see how a ref might see it as pass interference. Homer goggles help, as well.
All in all, a solid enough day for Lockette. With only 12 offensive snaps late in the game, and quite a few coming on run plays, there were not a lot of opportunities for Lockette to stand out on offense. We'll see what Week 2 brings. Strong special teams play will be a key to him securing a roster spot, but there is obviously quite a bit of room for a stand-out receiver.