Many were critical about this pick. They claimed he didn’t offer much outside of return specialist duties. Additionally, the Seahawks traded up to take him in the 3rd round. The critics were partially correct as up to this point in the season Lockett was primarilly a kick returner and his major contribution was a 105 yard kickoff return against the Bears.
However, against the 49ers his 79 yards and touchdown were crucial in their victory. In this breakdown we will take a look at Lockett’s five targets and discuss how he was used in Darell Bevell’s offense.
The Seahawks ran twice with Marshawn Lynch to gain 22 yards on their first drive from scrimmage. It’s 1st and 10 and the Seahawks run a passing play out of shotgun with trips left slot right. The 49ers pre-snap look to be in a Cover 2 shell, but then drop their outside cornerbacks in a Cover 3 look post-snap.
Lockett sitting on the top of your screen runs a 6-yard hitch route underneath the deep coverage of the cornerback who lines up against him initially. The 49ers rush four defenders, and Wilson escapes the pocket to release the ball to Lockett sitting on the boundary for a 16 yard gain.
Lockett is wide open due to the defensive breakdown between left cornerback #26 Tramaine Brock and strong safety #41 Antoine Bethea. Typically in a Cover 3 shell the strong safety will take one of the underneath zones while the defense drops the outside cornerback deep. In this case, Bethea covered tight end #88 Jimmy Graham in man-to-man coverage, which left Lockett completely uncovered. This breakdown was on Bethea who should have taken the underneath zone.
The Seahawks start in I-formation right in “21”-personnel. Wilson shifts fullback #46 Will Tukuafu to the line of scrimmage. The Seahawks offensive line zone-block to the right setting up what appears to be a one-back outside zone run to running back #24 Marshawn Lynch.
Lockett, off of the play-action fake, runs a post-route up the right side of the formation pulling his defender in man-to-man coverage. Free safety #35 Eric Reid bites on the play-action and approaches the line of scrimmage.
Wide receivers are taught to attack their defender’s away shoulder to pull them outside their coverage in man-to-man. This is exactly what Lockett does. He releases inside and uses his outside arm to fight off cornerback #26 Tramaine Brock. When Lockett cuts at the 25 yard line towards the middle of the field he gains the separation necessary on the long pass.
Wilson throws the ball deep in a beautifully high arching pass towards the endzone leaving it at the goal line. The ball should have been placed 4-5 yards into the endzone based on the separation and speed of Lockett. Brock attempts to deflect the slightly underthrown ball, but misses and Lockett is able to bring it in for the 43 yard score. Great route running by Lockett on this touchdown pass.
Just like in Lockett’s first reception, he runs a 6 yard hitch and sits underneath the Cover 3 shell of the 49ers this time on the left side of the formation. There is no obvious defensive breakdown.
The main difference between this play and the first play is the position of the strong safety. Antione Bethea was placed on injured reserve, so rookie strong safety #29 Jaquiski Tartt took his place in the 2nd quarter. After the snap, Tartt rushes to cover his underneath zone responsibilities. Tartt first rushes to get in the path of tight end #88 Jimmy Graham releasing on a seam route from the line of scrimmage. This prevents Wilson from attacking an easy seam up the middle of the defense. Next, Tartt is responsible for covering the left outside underneath zone.
Due to Lockett’s position right next to the sideline, he is in a great outlet position for Wilson who feels the pressure from linebacker #57 Michael Wilhoite who blitzes into the pocket uncontested. Wilson avoids the pressure showing his patented elusiveness and then escapes outside to pass the ball to Lockett.
Great play by Wilson. Credit goes to him on this play for his elusiveness and his ability to handle the blocking miscommunication on the offensive line.
Another hitch-route underneath the 49ers Cover 3 defense where Lockett sits on the right sideline waiting for Wilson’s pass. This time Jaquinski Tartt is ready for the boundary pass. He instantly attacks Lockett closing in on him preventing any quick pass.
The 49ers bring four pass rushers with linebacker #59 Aaron Lynch speedrushing from the right edge of the pocket. The Seahawks pull left guard #68 Justin Britt across the formation to block Lynch. From a play-calling standpoint, this has the effect of selling the play-action pass as a potential power run to the right. LG Britt misses his block though, but Wilson expertly spins avoiding Lynch in the pocket. The quarterback gets outside the pocket looking for Lockett on the edge like Plays 1 and 3 before as his outlet.
Now this is where Lockett shows an excellent ability to be an outlet for his quarterback. Lockett is completely covered after the snap, but after seeing his quarterback get pressured, Lockett turns up the field pulling his defender (Tartt) out of coverage and then returns down the sideline in a make-shift comeback route. Excellent move to shake the defender.
A wide receiver screen pass from shotgun trips left bunch was Lockett’s final reception on the day. Lockett catches the ball reading the inside path seeing the linebackers flow his direction. He takes it outside and getes tackled for a 2 yard gain on the left boundary. Give the 49ers’ two outside defenders a lot of credit on this play to hold up their blocks and prevent a much larger gain.
The Seahawks’ offensive coordinator, Darell Bevell, loves putting Lockett out in space on the boundaries. A large portion of his routes versus the 49ers were hitch routes as outlets for Russell Wilson near the line of scrimmage. Based on the Seahawks’ offensive line issues in pass protection Lockett became a big part of the passing offense as a check down. Lockett is mostly known for his kick return abilities, specifically the one that went for 105 yards against the Bears. Hopefully, for the Seahawks he can be the outside/slot-hybrid receiver the Seahawks need after the departure of Golden Tate to the Detroit Lions.
Follow Samuel Gold on Twitter: @SamuelRGold.