SANTA CLARA – Leon Hall originally worked out for the 49ers in May. He was brought back to the Bay Area in early September for another audition.
Finally, the 49ers made the move this week to sign Hall, 32, a 10-year NFL veteran with 27 career interceptions. The other nine current members of the 49ers' secondary have combined for 17 career interceptions.
The 49ers hope Hall can bring some stability and knowledge to a young, inconsistent secondary. The 49ers rank 26th in the NFL in passing yards allowed (249.8 yards per game) and 31st in third-down efficiency.
“First and foremost, you have to acknowledge that it’s young in the secondary,” Hall said. “And I’m far beyond the oldest member of the secondary. So that said, experience helps.”
Hall spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals after arriving as the No. 18 overall pick in 2007 from Michigan. He spent last season with the New York Giants.
Coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledged Hall's experience is a big reason the 49ers reached out to him. But Shanahan said his versatility is also attractive after the 49ers had to piece together their secondary against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday due to injuries.
“I think his strongest asset is that he can play pretty much all the positions back there,” Shanahan said. “He played at a very high level in Cincinnati as an outside corner, being a high draft pick and doing that for a number of years. And he’s a very smart player who we’ve also seen play nickel. He played the safety position, too, with the Giants last year.
“We’ve had a bunch of injuries last week and we’ve got a veteran guy in here who is a great person, who works hard, who also can play all the positions and help us wherever we need be, so his versatility really makes for a big asset for us.”
Hall, who grew up a fan of the 49ers in Southern California, said he can find satisfaction from the challenge of helping a young team win its first game.
“They got some talent here,” Hall said. “I’m sitting at home at watching it. I can see it. There are some things, obviously, that can be tightened up. So that’s part of my excitement is coming there trying to help them get their first tab into the win column and go from there.”
The 49ers placed veteran cornerback Asa Jackson on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury. Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is working back through the NFL’s concussion protocol.