The loss of Michael Crabtree has caused a lot of worrying about the San Francisco 49ers' passing game, with potential solutions ranging from signing Brandon Lloyd to A.J. Jenkins stepping up, to an offense that runs more than ever.
Barely mentioned as a potential help to the team: Colin Kaepernick's roommate.
Ricardo Lockette, 27, is a Seattle Seahawks castoff with two career catches. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2011. But he has the advantages of getting home schooled by Kaepernick every night.
"Say if I'm in the shower and he's walking down the hall, he'll yell, 'Hey Lock, what do you have on so-and-so?' And I'll say, 'I've got a go (route),'" Lockette said this week via the San Jose Mercury News. "It's 24/7 learning, and just making it fun for each other."
Lockette looks the part at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds. He was a national track champion in community college and Division III and is now described as perhaps "Kaepernick's closest confidant." Even before Crabtree's injury, coach Jim Harbaugh was talking up Lockette as a factor.
"There's just something about him that I'm really fired up about," coach Jim Harbaugh told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area in March (via ESPN's Mike Sando). "He's got something else to him, too, besides just the analytical size, strength, speed. There's something special there. I just feel it."
Lockette says Kaepernick has come up with creative ways to help him learn the playbook, using word associations. Lockette was part of a group that trained with Kaepernick in Atlanta during the offseason, before they traveled back to their house a few miles from the 49ers' facility.
Perhaps he's a long shot, but don't be surprised if the 49ers give Lockette a real chance to have a role as a vertical threat this year. It's a skill set they need badly.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.