49ers scout team receiver familiar with Welker's game

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49ers scout team receiver familiar with Welker's game

SANTA CLARA -- At 5-foot-8, 187 pounds, wide receiver Chad Hall has often been compared to Wes Welker.

So it only goes to reason that Hall would don No. 83 and play the role of the New England Patriots' top threat in the passing game this week during 49ers practices to help get the defense prepared for the real thing Sunday night in Foxboro, Mass.

Hall, a third-year player from Air Force, is on the 49ers' practice squad. His main duty during the week is to run pass routes on the scout team to help prepare the 49ers' defense for the upcoming opponent.

This week, his assignment is a natural.

[RELATED: Welker poses immense challenge for Rogers]

Welker is listed at 5-9, 185, so Hall has already studied Welker as the template for achieving his own NFL success. Hall has spent time in the past dissecting Welker's game in hopes he can pick up some keys to make himself a better player.

"He's very patient," Hall said of Welker. "He doesn't try to do too much. He just takes what the defense. You can tell he's very experienced. He reads the coverage well and sits in holes. He's a really good player."

Welker leads the Patriots with 95 catches for 1,116 yards. He is closing in on becoming the first player in NFL history with five 100-catch seasons.

Hall played 15 games the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, catching 14 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. In his final season at the Air Force in 2007, Hall rushed for 1,478 yards and 15 touchdowns while also catching 50 passes for 524 yards. He also handled kickoff- and punt-return chores.

The 49ers signed Hall to the practice squad on Nov. 27. Since then, Hall has been sleeping on the couch at the one-bedroom apartment of quarterback Scott Tolzien. Hall and Tolzien's older brother, Mike, attended Air Force together.

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Former 49ers receiver Brandon Lloyd is second on New England with 57 catches for 650 yards. Practice-squad receiver Ricardo Lockette played the role of Lloyd during 49ers practice on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a former scout team receiver is beginning to wear his own uniform at practices. Rookie A.J. Jenkins, the 49ers' first-round draft pick, saw his first NFL action on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Jenkins played eight snaps, but did not see any passes thrown his way. However, he did make a block to help running back Frank Gore pick up 19 yards and set up a touchdown.

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Wide receiver Mario Manningham went through limited practice with a right shoulder injury after sitting out the game against the Dolphins. Manningham's status is not certain for Sunday's game. Jenkins said he does not know if he'll have a role against the Patriots, but he said he is satisfied with his development.

"It's a fast-paced game and I feel a lot more comfortable out there," Jenkins said. "It feels good to come out there and contribute. You have to start from somewhere. This week might be more. I don't know."

"I'm fortunate to feel good right now. I'll go out there and keep grinding."

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WEDNESDAY'S PRACTICE PARTICIPATION REPORTS
49ERS
Limited participation: LB Tavares Gooden (ribs), WR Mario Manningham (shoulder), RB Bruce Miller (shoulder), LB Aldon Smith (shoulder)
Full participation: K David Akers (pelvis), LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder), CB Tarell Brown (shoulder), CB Chris Culliver (knee), RB Frank Gore (wrist), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), DT Will Tukuafu (wrist), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)

PATRIOTS
Did not participate: TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm, hip), DT Kyle Love (not injury related)
Limited participation: CB Kyle Arrington (knee), DT Ron Brace (elbow), S Patrick Chung (shoulder, hamstring), G Dan Connolly (back), CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), DE Chandler Jones (ankle), WR Brandon Lloyd (knee), G Logan Mankins (ankle, calf), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), LB Brandon Spikes (knee, ankle), CB Aqib Talib (hip), T Sebastian Vollmer (back, knee), WR Wes Welker (ankle), LB Tracy White (elbow)
Full participation: LB Jerod Mayo (elbow)

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

The 49ers on Monday extended one-year qualifying offers to nose tackle Mike Purcell and linebacker Carl Bradford as exclusive-rights free agents.

Purcell appeared in 15 games last season. He started the first five games of the season at nose tackle and was a reserve for the remainder of the season. Originally signed in 2013 as an undrafted rookie from Wyoming, Purcell has appeared in 25 games over the past three seasons.

The 49ers claimed Bradford off waivers in December from the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in the final two games of the season with the 49ers and was credited with two tackles.

Bradford entered the NFL out of Arizona State as a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2014. After being inactive for every game as a rookie, Bradford was among Green Bay’s final cuts in 2015. He spent the season on the practice squad.

He appeared in four games for the Packers last year. The 49ers claimed him after he was waived in December.

Exclusive rights free agents are player who have fewer than three years of NFL service who have no outside negotiating power if a team extends a qualifying offer.

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.