49ers likely to receive two compensatory picks in ’09 draft

Hey, it’s never too early to start talking about next year’s draft.

Hey, it’s never too early to start talking about next year’s draft.

The 49ers figure to have nine draft picks next season, including two compensatory picks based on net free-agent losses this offseason.

The formula the NFL uses to determine compensatory picks is kept as secret as the Colonel’s special recipe, but it appears to be based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. Salary is the biggest factor in the equation with adjustments made for playing time and awards. Compensatory picks are awarded to teams, beginning at the end of the third round. The 49ers’ two projected comp picks could be at the end of the fifth and sixth rounds (but who knows?).

Therefore, we can give you a sneak peak – but certainly not final projection – on how the 49ers’ compensatory picks stack up for next year.

Losses (4): Justin Smiley, Dolphins; Kwame Harris, Raiders; Marques Douglas, Buccaneers; and Maurice Hicks, Vikings.

The big question when he signed his contract was whether Hicks would qualify. He signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract which should easily make his deal qualify for compensatory status.

Gains (2): Justin Smith; Bryant Johnson.

For a while it looked as if the 49ers might be in line to get three comp picks, but a couple weeks into free agency, they pulled the trigger on acquiring Johnson. The 49ers signed Johnson to a one-year, $2 million contract. The one question mark is Dontarrious Thomas. It appears his deal, which averages $866,720 over two seasons is just below the necessary threshold to be considered as part of the equation. J.T. O’Sullivan also does not count, as he signed a one-year, $645,000 deal.

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As many of you know, the only free agent gains and losses that count in this equation are players whose contracts expired and hit the market as unrestricted free agents. Players who were released do not count. Therefore, Derek Smith signing with the Chargers and Darrell Jackson’s landing with the Broncos are irrelevant, as are the 49ers signings of DeShaun Foster, Isaac Bruce, Allen Rossum and Barry Sims.

It also should be noted that if Larry Allen were to end up with another team, the 49ers would get no compensation because he was “not asked to re-sign” last month at a deadline to tender unrestricted free agents.

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Oh, yeah, one more thing about why the 49ers would not sign Brett Favre . . . this is a critical season as the organization plans for the future because they have to find out whether Alex Smith is the long-term answer. Smith’s base salary jumps from $2.3 million this season to $9.625 million in 2009 and $15 million in 2010. They need to find out one way or another about Smith this season before it comes time to make a decision on those large salaries.

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One of the really good guys in the organization, assistant athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka, is leaving the 49ers on Friday to take a similar position with the Chicago Bulls. The San Jose native spent nine seasons with the 49ers. In 2001, Tanaka was on the staff that won the prestigious NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year Award in a voting of their peers.

Jeff, be sure to pack a nice, warm jacket.

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