Extra 6th-rounder adds ammunition

The 49ers will have a little extra ammunition going into the NFL draft next month after picking up a sixth-round compensatory pick from the league that shouldn't be overlooked considering the quality of players the Niners have been able find that late in the college lottery since landing Pro Bowl fullback Fred Beasley in the sixth round in 1998.

Of the 32 compensatory picks the NFL awarded to 16 teams this week, the Niners have the seventh highest with the 33rd selection of the sixth round, the 198th overall pick of the draft.

The Niners already have one pick in the top half of every round of the April 24-25 draft. They have the No. 16 overall pick in the first round, the 14th pick in the second round (No. 46 overall), the 14th pick in the third round (No. 77), the 16th in the fourth round (No. 111), the 15th pick in the fifth round (No. 142), the 14th pick in the sixth round (No. 173) and the No. 16 pick in the seventh round (No. 207).

The 49ers received the extra pick this year under the terms of the NFL collective bargaining agreement, which awards picks to a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in a year. Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.

The Niners received the sixth-rounder this year because they lost one compensatory free agent (starting defensive end Chike Okeafor, who started for the Seattle Seahawks last season) in 2003 and didn't sign any compensatory FAs during the same period.

An extra sixth-round selection shouldn't be taken lightly when the 49ers are picking. Since taking Beasley with the No. 180 overall selection in 1998, the Niners have drafted seven players in the sixth round or later who became starters and 13 players who made the team as rookies. Nine of those will be starters or key players on the team in 2004.

That list includes starting quarterback Tim Rattay, long-snapper Brian Jennings, receiver Cedrick Wilson, tight end Eric Johnson, guards Eric Heitmann and Kyle Kosier, quarterback Ken Dorsey and receiver Arnaz Battle.

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