Last week, it was confirmed that Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon and he will miss a portion of the 2013 season. In response, Jim Harbaugh said it is open competition at the wide receiver position among who is remaining.
“[With Crabtree hurt], right now is you look at the young receivers on our team that will emerge, because they have to emerge,” said Harbaugh. “We’re excited to watch them compete for that spot.”
One of the darkhorse WRs to get playing time would be 2012 practice squad member Ricardo Lockette, who hasn’t played in a game since 2011. Before spending most of 2012 on the practice squad with the 49ers, Lockette had two receptions for 105 yards with the Seattle Seahawks which included a 61 yard touchdown reception.
Colin Kaepernick worked with both Lockette and A.J. Jenkins in Atlanta this offseason with consistent practice. He felt that Lockette was one of the fastest receivers he has ever worked with.
“Working with Colin with the way he explains things and how he breaks it down has been helpful,” said Lockette. “He understands how to play from getting bigger, faster and stronger from this offseason.”
The chemistry with Kaepernick and WRs Lockette and Jenkins should be stronger than before, but the question is how much? Lockette is motivated to impress the coaches in the open competition at the WR position. He is an outside receiver and has decent size at 6-2, 212 pounds.
If Lockette plays up to his potential, he could be a vertical passing threat with his speed ability. The 49ers lacked a vertical passing threat throughout last season which was expected to be filled with Randy Moss. It ended up being a glaring hole only having receivers take short routes and depending on Michael Crabtree for most of the air attack. Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams are still recovering from torn ACL injuries and are not 100 percent. Quinton Patton would have little experience compared to Lockette and Jenkins in terms of seniority with the team.
Lockette said he is taking his practices seriously knowing the opportunity to play could come soon. It will be an uphill battle with other receivers, but he said he is working to continue improving his game.
“The job I’m competing for is still important and it happens to replace a top receiver,” said Lockette. “I’m not taking this lightly and I [want] to take my skills to the next level.”