SANTA CLARA Ricardo Lockette is so intent on landing a spot on the 49ers' roster that he bought a white board and markers so he could chart and study plays on his own time.
Lockette also has an expert checking his homework: 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
"If we have new things going in (the playbook), I'll have him draw them up different formations, different coverages," Kaepernick said. "It's making sure he knows his adjustments and knows where everyone is lined up on the concept."
Lockette, 26, one of several undistinguished wide receivers fighting for a roster spot, has two notable advantages.
First is his access to the most critical player on the team. He and Kaepernick had instant chemistry when they met in February 2011, and they have been housemates since the 49ers added Lockette to the practice squad Sept. 25. They also spent the early part of the offseason training together near Atlanta.
Kaepernick, borderline maniacal when it comes to offseason conditioning, said he seeks training partners who will push him. Who better to do that than the fastest player on the team?
"I did a few track workouts with him," Kaepernick said. "And it's unbelievable the speed he has, and it's just natural to him."
Tyree Price, Lockette's track coach at Fort Valley State University in Georgia, thinks speed could have landed Lockette in the Olympics.
In his first 200-meter race at Fort Valley State, Lockette was so far ahead of the field that he began proudly and cockily pointing to the stands 30 meters before the finish line. Lockette still finished in 20.69 seconds, but Price admonished him.
"There's a way to win," he told the young sprinter.
Price said he's certain Lockette could have run the 200 in the 19-second range had he stuck with track. Only half of the eight finalists in the men's 200 at the London Olympics finished in under 20 seconds. Gold medalist Usain Bolt won in 19.32.
Lockette also was a dominant high jumper who cleared 6 feet, 8 inches.
"There was no stopping him," said Price, now the track coach at South Carolina State. "He's a determined individual. If you put something in his face and say he can't do it, he's going to prove you wrong."
Lockette never broke 20 seconds in the 200 because he never wanted to concentrate on track full time. He was always drawn to football, and he split time between the sports.
Though Lockette was far from prolific at Fort Valley State he caught 23 passes for 262 yards and one touchdown for the Division II school in 2010 athleticism and potential earned him an invitation to the NFL scouting combine in 2011, where he met Kaepernick. Lockette ran his 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, and his broad jump 10 feet, 7 inches was among the best.
"He crushed the combine," Kaepernick said. "That's kind of what made him stand out to me and start talking to him. I didn't know who he was. He was one of the fastest, jumped the farthest. Physically, when you look at him, he's a specimen."
A sprinting background isn't always a positive in the NFL. Though it implies a player has speed, it also brings a perception he might not be as rugged as his peers.
Lockette is wary of that.
Lockette, 6-foot-2 and a muscular 211 pounds, said he's been studying film on new 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who built a 10-year NFL career not on speed he ran a slow 4.72-second 40 in 2003 but on smarts and toughness.
"I see how aggressive he is attacking the ball in the air, how he fights for yards after the play," Lockette said. "His passion for football every time he catches the football or even when he makes a mistake. There's a passion and aggression he brings to the game."
Coach Jim Harbaugh said he was impressed with Lockette in practices last year and is eager to see him take the next step this offseason.
"He's someone we're very excited about," Harbaugh said last week. "I mean, he's got great ability and tools. There's nothing about Ricardo that would ever suggest he was a track guy other than he can run fast. There's no track perception or finesse perception when you watch him."
Lockette never became well-versed in the offense last season because he spent his time mimicking San Francisco's upcoming opponent as a member of the practice squad. He'll have an opportunity during upcoming OTAs and minicamps to show if his white-board homework and chemistry with the quarterback have paid dividends.
"Ever since I got here last year, it's been me and Kap," Lockette said. "And now it's time to show it on the field."