The rules in the NFL apply to all 32 teams. The compensatory draft pick rules are not exclusive to the San Francisco 49ers. They have received extra selections because they assembled a staff and front office that is not exclusively white men.
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Those hires were also not merely window dressing. DeMeco Ryans rose through the 49ers coaching ranks from defensive quality control assistant to defensive coordinator. Last year, he was hired by the team he won Defensive Rookie of Year with as a player, the Houston Texans, to be their head coach. Per NFL rules, teams whose minority members of the coaching staff or front office that are hired away by another team receive compensatory draft picks in return.
During the 2023 offseason, the 49ers lost both Ryans and Director of Player Personnel Ran Carthon. As a result, the 49ers received extra third-round picks for three consecutive drafts. ESPN’s Seth Wickersham’s Kyle Shanahan profile was published on Wednesday. In it, Wickersham wrote that some of the team owners are not happy with the 49ers receiving so many extra selections.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has once again “stained” America. How dare the NFL reward the 49ers for hiring people of all different ethnicities. The front office and the guys with the headsets have been mostly white for decades. Now here comes Kamala Harris and her Obama phones polluting the NFL.
This rule that incentivizes minority hiring in the NFL was done because teams did not see the need for diversifying the coaching or front-office ranks, and the league has been slammed for not doing so for decades. Richard Pryor joked about it on his sketch comedy show in the 1970s. A team got rewarded for doing what it was supposed to do and instead of taking a hint, some NFL team owners threw a fit.
If the league had not been so poor in its hiring practices that Brian Flores filed a lawsuit that disrupted a potential Tom Brady/Sean Payton take over of the Miami Dolphins, these incentives to try make sure that all potential candidates are seriously considered for openings would not be necessary.
The 49ers are doing what they are supposed to do. Employers are supposed to conduct searches for jobs that go further than alumni circles and golf clubs. A narrow approach to hiring should always be discouraged. One of the few things the league office has done right under Roger Goodell’s watch is advance the Rooney Rule. The look of front offices and coaching staffs weren’t changing fast enough, so incentives were added.
Other owners can get made at Ned York, John Lynch, Shanahan and Goodell if they want. But if they had any guts, they would put their name on their displeasure for rules that reward teams for hiring and developing strong minority employees.
But again, the rules apply to all teams. If owners feel like they are being cheated out of compensatory picks, they can always just develop minority talent for positions that don’t require pads. The 49ers set an example. Instead of whining anonymously, give them a call and find out how to improve your franchise and get third-round picks for doing so.