Matt Barrows

49ers' receiver Hall taking advantage of chance to shine

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 - 7:57 am

SANTA CLARA – Chad Hall is winning the war of attrition at the 49ers' wide receiver position. And it's not entirely because of luck.

"It's something I prepare for," the diminutive but elusive Hall said Wednesday. "I do a lot of injury-prevention stuff on my own in the weight room. That's the biggest thing about this game – if you're not healthy and on (the practice field), how are you going to impress coaches, how are you going to help this team?"

That's an issue for some of the squad's other wideouts.

Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood missed Wednesday's practice with various pulls and strains. Another player competing at the position, rookie Quinton Patton, has been unable to catch passes because of a broken finger. Two others, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, are on the physically unable to perform list.

With the numbers thinning at wide receiver, the team today will work out a free agent, Laurent Robinson, according to a league source who was unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The 49ers had shown interest in Robinson, 28, when he was a free agent last offseason, but he instead signed a lucrative long-term deal with the Jaguars. Jacksonville released him in March after he suffered multiple concussions last season.

Robinson's best season came in 2011 when he caught 54 passes for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns for Dallas. The 49ers already have worked out another receiver with a concussion history, Austin Collie, who remains unsigned.

The injuries at the position have given Hall plenty of opportunities both as a slot receiver – where he is most comfortable and most dangerous – and more recently as an outside receiver. Despite his 5-foot-8 frame, Hall has more receptions in 11-on-11 and team drills than any other wideout aside from starter Anquan Boldin during the first six practices of training camp.

Asked what he likes about Hall, quarterback Colin Kaepernick initially had a three-word response: "He gets open."

Kaepernick then elaborated: "He's quick, he's shifty, he knows how to read defenses and he finds the soft spot. … He's someone that's easy to throw to. Most of the time, he's open, and it's by quite a bit. As a quarterback, that's something you love."

Hall is from the Atlanta area, and he was one of the receivers who worked out with Kaepernick there after the 49ers' season ended. Ricardo Lockette, who also is from Georgia, was part of that group, while Jenkins spent part of the offseason there as well.

Hall said his chemistry with Kaepernick improved, and he also was impressed by the quarterback's work ethic. Hall, who graduated from the Air Force Academy, said he was well conditioned for training camp because of the time spent with Kaepernick, and because he spent the run-up to training camp doing two-a-day training sessions on his own.

"I think that's the most important part of the year, kind of – the (approach) to training camp," Hall said. "I take advantage of it. I don't sit back and relax. I kind of attack it."

Hall said he'd wake up at 6:30 each morning – "That's just the Air Force in me," he said. "I don't like getting up late." – and would be on the practice field by 8 a.m.

Part of his workouts included catching passes from NFL quarterbacks Charlie Whitehurst and Matthew Stafford. The latter has one of the strongest arms in the league, which also prepared Hall to handle fastballs from Kaepernick, who is Stafford's rival in terms of NFL arm strength.

Somehow, Hall managed to make it through the offseason with his fingers intact.

"Knock on wood," he said. "I'm still catching it clean right now."

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

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