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NFL rewards 49ers with FIVE compensatory draft picks for diversity hiring initiative

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NFL rewards 49ers with FIVE compensatory draft picks for diversity hiring initiative

The San Francisco 49ers are reaping the rewards of the NFL’s diverse rewards policy. The club received five third-round picks in exchange for developing minority candidates who went on to top-level coaching and executive positions around the league.

Five other teams were given a total of 10 compensation picks, but no more than the 49ers, who helped launch Washington Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel. They’ll get two more for Ran Carthon, who was recently named Tennessee Titans GM, and another if defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans becomes head coach this offseason.

The policy implemented in 2020 states: ‘Clubs that develop diverse employees hired in the position of Primary Football Executive or Head Coach at another club, will receive draft choice compensation in the form of a compensatory draft pick in the third round in each in the next two drafts. If a club has two employees hired for either a head coach or GM position, that club will receive a third-round compensatory pick in the next three drafts.

Saleh, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was the defensive coordinator for the 49ers before becoming head coach for the New York Jets in 2021

Saleh, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was the defensive coordinator for the 49ers before becoming head coach for the New York Jets in 2021

McDaniel, the son of a white mother and black father, was the 49ers' offensive coordinator until the Miami Dolphins hired him last year to become head coach.

McDaniel, the son of a white mother and black father, was the 49ers’ offensive coordinator until the Miami Dolphins hired him last year to become head coach.

Since the policy was enacted, former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the league and several teams, alleging the clubs conduct ‘sham’ interviews with minority head candidates -coaching and front-office positions to comply with the league. Rooney Rule, which aims to promote diversity in top positions.

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The league previously said it would defend itself against Flores’ claims, which a spokesman said were ‘without merit.’

Flores, who is black and of Honduran descent, was fired as Miami’s head coach in February despite back-to-back winning seasons in 2020 and 2021. He now works as a defensive assistant under Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Tomlin – one of only six minority head coaches entering the 2022 season.

About 60 percent of NFL players are African American, while there are only seven black GMs.

Mayhew, an African-American former NFL cornerback, was San Francisco's vice president of player personnel before Washington hired him to become general manager in 2021

Mayhew, an African-American former NFL cornerback, was San Francisco’s vice president of player personnel before Washington hired him to become general manager in 2021

Forty-Niners defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans (center) is also a head-coaching candidate

Forty-Niners defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans (center) is also a head-coaching candidate

Mayhew, an African-American former NFL cornerback, was San Francisco’s vice president of player personnel before Washington hired him to become general manager in 2021.

Saleh, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was the defensive coordinator for the 49ers before becoming the head coach for the New York Jets in 2021.

McDaniel, the son of a white mother and black father, was the 49ers’ offensive coordinator until the Miami Dolphins hired him last year to become head coach.

Carthon, also an African-American former player, was director of player personnel before the Tennessee Titans hired him to be their GM last week.

“Our main goal is to make sure there’s development, allowing for the advancement of diverse talent,” league executive Jonathan Beane told The Associated Press.

That’s exactly what this rewards policy does. It really rewards a club and an organization and leaders for developing great diverse talent and then getting the opportunity to be a general manager or a head coach at another club.’

Developing these candidates allowed the 49ers to accumulate additional draft picks. The team traded a 2023 second-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick and 2024 fifth-round pick to Carolina in October for star running back Christian McCaffrey.

‘We are lucky that some different ways, minority coaches brought us some choices. I think it empowers you to do something like this because you’ve had some comp threes, and you’ll get more in the future with things like that,’ Niners GM John Lynch said.

The Browns (Kwesi Adofo Mensah), Saints (Terry Fontenot), Rams (Brad Holmes), Chiefs (Ryan Poles) and Eagles (Andrew Barry) also received two, third-round picks for developing minority candidates.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was acquired from the Cleveland Browns, who will also receive a third-round compensatory pick for helping launch his career

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was acquired from the Cleveland Browns, who will also receive a third-round compensatory pick for helping launch his career

The 49ers, Eagles and Chiefs are in conference championship games on Sunday.

‘From what I see, it’s the way they operate as an organization,’ Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president, chief diversity and inclusion officer, said of the 49ers.

‘Diversity is something that is very important to them. They have many variations in coaching, football ops as well as business operations. They see that as a definite strength for the organization and it shows in the performance on the field.’

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Ryans, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker in 10 seasons with Houston and Philadelphia, is a hot candidate after guiding the league’s top defense. He appreciates San Francisco’s philosophy of developing coaches and front-office executives.

‘It’s an outstanding organization from the top down, the way things are done here, first class,’ said Ryans. John and (head coach) Kyle (Shanahan) did a great job of just bringing in the right people. And when you have everyone coming here, everyone’s opinion matters. Everyone feels like they are a part of what we are doing here and I think that is what makes the organization so successful. It’s just built with the right people in mind. When you have good people, you can do good things. And that’s what we did here.’