Chad Hall is winning the war of attrition at the 49ers receiver position. And it's not entirely due to luck.
"It's something I prepare for," the diminutive but quick receiver said today. "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 right now for some of the squad's other wideouts. Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood missed most of Tuesday's practice with various pulls and strains. Another player competing at the position, rookie Quinton Patton, has been unable to catch passes due to a broken finger. Two others, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, are recovering from serious injuries, an Achilles' tear and an ACL tear respectively.
That's 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 5-8 frame, Hall has caught more passes in 11-on-11 and team drills than any other wideout aside from starter Anquan Boldin during the first five practices of training camp.
Asked what he likes about Hall, 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 not only because of the time spent with Kaepenick but because he spent the run up to the summer sessions doing two-a-day training sessions on his own.
"I think that's the most important part of the year kind of - the (run-up) to training camp," Hall said. "I take advantage of it. I don't sit back and relax. I kind of attack it."
He said he'd wake up at 6:30 each morning - "That's just the Air Force in me. I don't like getting up late," he said - 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 got Hall accustomed to handling fastballs from Kaepernick, who is Stafford's rival in terms of NFL arm strength.
Somehow, Hall managed to make it through the offseason so far with his fingers intact.
"Knock on wood," he said. "I'm still catching it clean right now."
-- Matt Barrows