Niners notebook

Signing the draft picks, addressing the kicking game and taking a quick look at strategy and personnel along the defensive line.

Typically, the 49ers have been content to wait until the final week before the opening of training camp to begin serious negotiations with their draft picks. That thinking appears to have changed this summer.

The 49ers reached a contract agreement with sixth-round draft pick Keith Lewis, a safety from Oregon. Lewis agreed to a three-year, $974,000 contract that includes a $54,000 signing bonus.

The 49ers do not foresee any problems getting all of their draft picks into camp on time this summer. Receiver Rashaun Woods, the team's top pick, should have his contract finished in time for him to report on July 29. The team's first practice of training camp is July 30.

Woods' contract should be straight-forward because he was chosen with the No. 31 overall pick. Last year's No. 31 pick, Nnamdi Asomugha of Cal, received a $3.2 million signing bonus as part of a five-year deal.

In fact, when the 49ers drafted this year, one of the aspects they considered was "signability."

The 49ers originally had the No. 16 overall selection in the draft. Many mock drafts had the 49ers taking receiver Reggie Williams of Washington. But 49ers insiders said the team never would have selected him because he is represented by Kevin and Carl Poston.

The 49ers feared any player represented by the Postons was a candidate to hold out of training camp. Moreover, the 49ers already expect a lengthy holdout from linebacker Julian Peterson, whom the Postons represent.

As it turned out, Williams was already gone by the time the 49ers were set to select at No. 16. But that did not keep the 49ers from trading down twice in the first round to acquire additional draft picks, as well as increase the likelihood that all the rookies will be in camp on time.


--- Coach Dennis Erickson saw his rookie season with the 49ers deteriorate, in part, because of the team's kicking game. The 49ers discarded kicker Jeff Chandler and Owen Pochman in the first half of the season before settling on veteran Todd Peterson. But the 49ers never cut ties with Bill LaFleur, who proved disastrous as a punter and holder on kicks.

This season, the 49ers will enter camp with draft pick Andy Lee, as well as first-year punter Andy Groom.

"The competition at punter is going to be interesting," Erickson said. "We're in a lot better shape right now than we were a year ago at this time."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "One thing about the injury, you don't like to see them, but it gave Ken some opportunities to get better and better, and he grabbed them and did." -- Erickson on quarterback Tim Rattay's groin injury that elevated Ken Dorsey to the No. 1 role for the offseason minicamps.


The 49ers would like rookie Isaac Sopoaga to develop into the team's reliable No. 3 defensive tackle, but it is uncertain whether he will be productive early in his career. Sopoaga is seen as a player who excelled at Hawaii because of his brute strength. He will need to learn better technique to be effectively at the NFL level.

The 49ers' starters this season figure to be Bryant Young and second-year player Anthony Adams. After that, it's anybody's guess. "Who is going to be our third tackle, that's probably going to be the biggest thing up front," Erickson said.

Late-season acquisition Michael Landry is one of the players who might be considered as part of the defensive-tackle rotation. Josh Shaw, back from a four-game suspension last season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, is also trying to rededicate himself to earn a roster spot.

The 49ers last week held a tryout for Bryan Henderson, a 6-3, 290-pound defensive tackle who played the last two seasons with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League. Henderson played college ball at Northwestern Oklahoma.

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