Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The 49ers’ offseason plans continue to look less and less constricted. Over the course of the last week, the 49ers have gone from a projected roughly $12 million in cap space to $23 million to $25 million thanks to rollover cap space from 2020, roughly $11 million in bonus money that was not conveyed last season, and $182.5 million salary cap, which is $7.5 million above the floor and $2 million more than was expected.
For a brief moment on Wednesday, it seemed like that news would continued to come with positive surprises, with the NFL announcing the 49ers had been awarded three compensatory draft picks, including back-to-back third-round picks (102 and 103 overall). That would have been seismic news, given that the expectation was for a single compensatory third-round pick in each of the next three drafts from the hirings of Robert Saleh (Jets head coach) and Martin Mayhew (Washington’s general manager).
It is a direct result of the NFL’s new rules for diversity hiring. At the start of the year, the league approved the following rule, to award third-round draft compensation to teams who had a coach and/or executive of diversity hired as head coach or general manager/chief executive of another organization.
The rule is below:
2020 RESOLUTION JC-2A
Whereas, the member clubs believe that policies designed to promote equal employment opportunity and a diverse and inclusive workforce advance significant league interests, including improved decision making, enhanced business performance, and representing the NFL as an employer of choice that hires and promotes based on merit; and
Whereas, the member clubs have adopted policies extending over several decades in furtherance of these goals, including policies designed to permit upward mobility and advancement of club employees, particularly those in coaching and football operations roles; and
Whereas, the member clubs believe that it is appropriate to take additional steps to enhance opportunities for employment and advancement of minorities and women in key positions, including leadership roles in coaching, personnel, and football operations,
Be it Resolved, that the League Policy on Equal Employment and Workplace Diversity will be amended as follows:
(i) The employer-club of a minority employee who has been hired by another club as its Head Coach or Primary Football Executive (General Manager) shall receive Draft choice compensation in the form of a compensatory Draft pick in the third round in each of the next two Drafts for an employee hired as either a Head Coach or Primary Football Executive, or for the next three Drafts if it has two employees hired for both positions. The reference to the hiring of employees into “both positions” could be by the same club or different clubs. The following will apply to the Draft choice compensation:
a. Any compensatory Draft picks awarded pursuant to this Policy will be at the end of the third round following all compensatory Draft picks awarded to clubs pursuant to Appendix V of the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.
b. If multiple clubs are awarded compensatory Draft picks pursuant to this Policy, then the order of those picks at the end of the third round will follow the original selection order for that Draft established prior to any trades or other adjustments.
(ii) The employer-club shall be eligible to receive this Draft choice compensation if:
a. The minority employee hired as a Head Coach or Primary Football Executive has been employed by the employer-club for a minimum of two full seasons; and
b. The minority employee is not the Head Coach or Primary Football Executive of the employer-club and is hired into the same position with the new club. There can be no break in employment between clubs.
Submitted by Workplace Diversity Committee
Effect: Establishes a system that rewards clubs for developing minority employees who move to the position of Primary Football Executive or Head Coach with other clubs.
Reason: Supports development opportunities for minority employees to advance goals of diversity, equity and inclusion.
So for some time, it seemed like the rule was going to be interpreted in a totally different way and the 49ers would be awarded two third-round picks in each of the next three drafts. Not quite. This… is incorrect on the league’s part:
Comp picks! pic.twitter.com/w6KfZlNWPE
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 10, 2021
The league issued a correction, giving the 49ers what they expected; one compensatory third-round pick, No. 102 overall. According to a league source, the 49ers were quickly made aware of the situation.
The team also received a compensatory fifth-round pick from Emmanuel Sanders, which will be No. 180 overall. So, the 49ers don’t steal an extra third-rounder, but they benefit greatly from the league’s new policy in a year in which their third rounder, thanks to the Trent Williams trade, will go to Washington.
Here is the 49ers’ full draft pick order:
Round 1, Pick 12
Round 2, Pick 43
Round 3, Pick 102* – Compensatory for Robert Saleh/Martin Mayhew
Round 4, Pick 117
Round 5, Pick 155
Round 5, Pick 172 – From New Orleans in Kwon Alexander trade
Round 5, Pick 180* – Compensatory for Emmanuel Sanders
Round 6, Pick 193
Round 7, Pick 228 – From Jets in Jordan Willis trade
Round 7, Pick 238