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.
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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.
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.
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
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)
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)