49ers' development of Saleh nets two third-round draft picks

Robert Saleh, 49ers

Given his stellar work as defensive coordinator over the past four seasons, it was only a matter of time before Robert Saleh found a head-coaching job this winter.

The New York Jets have agreed in principle to a contract with Saleh, reportedly to a five-year deal after Kyle Shanahan spent the last month of the season acknowledging his trusted coach’s imminent departure.

It will be an adjustment without Saleh, but he leaves the team in a good situation, so it’s something of a win-win for both parties. 

Saleh’s promotion to head coach also garnered the 49ers third-round draft picks in 2021 and 2022, under the NFL’s new rule to drive the hiring of minority coaches and general managers. So, the Lebanese American Saleh leaves a parting gift for San Francisco.

RELATED: LaFleur leaving 49ers, joining Saleh's staff as OC

Considering the 49ers had already ceded their 2021 third-round pick to the Washington Football Team to acquire Trent Williams, this is a big pickup. The compensatory selection will take place at the end of the third round, bringing San Francisco’s current count of picks to 10. The 49ers are also expected to receive a pair of fifth-round compensation picks and own the rights to the Jets’ seventh-rounder.

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If 49ers vice president of player personnel Martin Mayhew earns a general manager’s job, San Francisco could receive another compensatory pick in 2023. The minority-targeted hiring rule also awards franchises three consecutive third-round picks if a coach and general manager find new jobs in the same offseason.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Mayhew is expected to interview with Washington on Friday.

Since 2017, the NFL has approved trading of compensatory picks. This is all good news for the 49ers if they try to put together an attractive draft package to acquire Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans.