Rookie Ricardo Lockette makes key grab in NFL debut

Dec 25, 2011, 1:19 AM | Updated: 1:30 am

By Brady Henderson

Ricardo Lockette wasn’t smiling.

It was actually more of a beaming expression that lit up one corner of an otherwise grim locker room, and it stayed on Lockette’s face while the Seahawks’ rookie receiver told reporters about his first NFL catch.

Lockette, nicknamed “The Rocket” for his blazing speed, got behind 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers on the second play of the opening drive. Tarvaris Jackson threw off his back foot while being drilled and hit Lockette in stride up the right sideline for a 44-yard gain.

Ricardo Lockette’s NFL debut included a 44-yard catch on the game’s opening drive. (AP)

The Seahawks would score five plays later for a 7-0 lead.

Lockette, who was making his NFL debut, said he knew Friday that the play was coming early in the game.

“I kinda had it in my mind,” he said. “I knew how it was going to happen, how I was going release it. I saw the ball in the air at least 1,000 times in my dreams, so when it came time to do it it was kind of a piece of cake.”

Teammates greeted Lockette with hugs and pats on the helmet upon his return to the sideline.

The undrafted rookie from Fort Valley State (Georgia) was promoted from the practice squad on Dec. 14. He was active on Saturday for the first time.

“It was amazing. A dream come true,” said Lockette, a 200-meter champion in college who was clocked at 4.27 seconds in the 40-yard dash. “From going to a Division II school to being undrafted to making a big play against my dad’s favorite team. So merry Christmas to him.”

Was Lockette nervous?

“I thought it was going to be an extreme, high-level of jitters and stuff like that,” he said, “but when it came time to play it just felt like backyard football. Once that first catch is gone the jitters were gone and I was ready to rock and roll.”

Lynch ends 49ers’ streaks

The 49ers entered Saturday’s game having allowed zero rushing touchdowns all season, a streak that held up in the second quarter when the Seahawks failed to find the end zone despite running three straight times from inside San Francisco’s 10-yard line.

It would end in the fourth quarter when Marshawn Lynch scored from four yards out following Heath Farwell’s blocked punt. Lynch finished with 107 yards on 21 carries, becoming the first running back since Week 11 of the 2009 season to reach triple digits against the 49ers.

“They’re the best in the NFL,” coach Pete Carroll said of San Francisco’s run defense. “I thought it was really, really stellar on our guys’ part. Nobody has blocked them (the 49ers) like that.”

In what has become a common postgame scene, Lynch didn’t say more than a handful of words to reporters before exiting the locker room.

“I’m pretty sure he’s not excited about it because we lost,” fullback Michael Robinson said of Lynch breaking the 49ers’ streaks. “When you lose a game like this … tough one to swallow today.”

Center Max Unger added: “It was nice to do that, but at the end it doesn’t really mean too much when we lose.”

They said it: “We overcame a lot of things. We overcame adversity, overcame the opposing crowd. It is a tremendous atmosphere for football; they’re really into it here. It really makes you feel like a man when you can do that. Our guys feel good about what they accomplished.” — 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

Injury update: A “little strained knee” to receiver Ben Obomanu was the only injury Carroll mentioned after the game.

Up next: The Seahawks close out their season with a Week 17 game against the Cardinals (7-8) in Glendale, Ariz.

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