Three and Out: Patton catching with eyes; improved DL depth
"He's quick, shifty, he knows how to read defenses. He's easy to throw to. Most of the time he's open." -- Colin Kaepernick on Chad Hall (USA TODAY IMAGES)
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SANTA CLARA -- Rookie wide receiver Quinton Patton has yet to catch a pass through the first week of full-squad practices.
Patton has a cast on the middle finger of his left hand, an indication that the finger could be broken. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Patton "jammed" it. But Patton is not on the sideline, either.
He is wearing a blue jersey, which signifies that he is off-limits for contact. And that includes catching passes. Patton is running routes during all 49ers drills; he's just not catching balls.
"He's getting a lot of work in practice, aside from actually catching the football," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Wednesday. "He's pretty much staying right in tune with everybody. I've been impressed with how he's staying on top of things."
Roman said the directions to the fourth-round draft pick are simple: "Stay away from it. Catch it with your eyes."
And how many phantom receptions does Patton have this summer?
"Visually, a lot," Roman said.
Chad Hall is one player competing for playing time at wide receiver who is not pretending to catch passes from quarterback Colin Kaepernick, with whom he worked out for several weeks in Atlanta after the Super Bowl. Hall might be the smallest of Kaepernick's targets, but he is catching everything in sight.
Hall (5 foot 8, 190 pounds) is cut from the mold of such successful slot receivers as Wes Welker and Danny Amendola. And he is making a strong case to become a factor in the 49ers' offense this season.
"You want to show them your strengths, and they'll find a way to put your strengths on the field," Hall said. "For example, get me in open space. It's been good.
"I love being inside, as close as I can get to my linemen. I think that's where I can help this team the most. I can get lost in there and use your quickness in there. That's my main attribute, my quickness. I love being down there. I can block. I'm not scared. I'll get in there and hit anybody."
Hall originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. He appeared in eight games as a rookie and caught 11 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown that season. He had three catches for 20 yards in seven games for the Eagles in 2011.
He came to the 49ers' practice squad on Nov. 27, and was activated for the postseason. He played one snap in the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons, and did not get to play in the Super Bowl.
The 49ers are short-handed at wide receiver, which has given Hall an opportunity to show what he can do.
"He's quick, shifty, he knows how to read defenses," 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. "He's easy to throw to. Most of the time he's open."
Michael Crabtree is out until late in the season with a torn Achilles. Mario Manningham might not be available for the opening of the regular season as he continues to rehab an ACL injury.
Kyle Williams has been out since Saturday with a hamstring strain. A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood also sat out most of Tuesday's practice with hamstring ailments.
[REWIND: Jenkins sits out Tuesday's practice]
Hall and Marlon Moore are two players who have taken advantage of the increased repetitions, as the 49ers look for reliable players opposite of veteran Anquan Boldin. Hall is showing he can play more than just the slot.
"Unfortunately, with our injuries, they've put me outside and I've gotten a lot better outside, too," Hall said. "I think they trust me outside just as much as inside."
Said Roman, "Chad is a guy who knows multiple positions. He'll play inside in the slot, and outside -- strong and weak. One of the things Chad has done is he's shown he can handle all of those position responsibilities."