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Thursday, August 22, 2013
Curious case of 49ers' Ricardo Lockette

By Mike Sando

Reporters surrounding San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh during the NFL owners' meeting in March perked up when he offered high praise for a little-known wide receiver, Ricardo Lockette.

Lockette
"There is something special there," Harbaugh said. "I can feel it."

Harbaugh was feeling what the Seattle Seahawks had felt regarding Lockette a couple years earlier. They loved Lockette's combination of size (6-foot-2, 211 pounds) and speed (4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash). Lockette was raw coming out of Ft. Valley State, but the 61- and 44-yard touchdown receptions he made late during the 2011 season had given Seattle reason to think Lockette was on his way.

Lockette could not keep the momentum going in Seattle. He appears to have a followed a similar course with the 49ers, who released him Thursday to make room on their roster for another ex-Seahawk, quarterback Seneca Wallace. There is nothing preventing Lockette from resurfacing elsewhere or even reviving his career with the 49ers at some point in the future. But if Harbaugh still felt as though Lockette could offer something special at a position of clear need for the 49ers, the team wouldn't be releasing him while the roster limit remains at 90 players.

So, what keeps tripping up Lockette, who had been living with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in an effort to improve his grasp of the game?

Players with the right size and speed cannot always make the talents transfer from the practice field to game situations. Some players have a harder time playing fast when burdened by voluminous playbooks. Some lack a feel for beating certain coverages. Some have better instincts than others possess. Some struggle with consistency when asked to run play after play during practices.

Perhaps Harbaugh can provide some thoughts. He was certainly eager to discuss Lockette previously.