49ers get busy on eve of training camp

There was no easing into training camp for the 49ers on Thursday as San Francisco made a flurry of moves on the eve of 2006 camp, including getting first-round draft choice Manny Lawson under contract before the team's first summer practice Friday morning.

Lawson's signing – contract figures were not disclosed for the No. 22 overall pick, but ESPN reported that it's a five-year, $8.5 million deal – came late in the evening Thursday after the 49ers had moved two players and acquired another earlier in the day.

The Niners shipped third-year quarterback Cody Pickett to the Houston Texans for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, then signed sixth-year defensive end Jerry DeLoach, a player whom the 49ers have been interested in since last year. DeLoach was a free agent after being released by the Texans in May.

The 49ers also signed free-agent rookie linebacker David Dixon as expected and released rookie receiver Chris Baker, who had no chance to make the team this summer.

Pickett, a 2004 seventh-round draft choice who displayed promise during his first two years with the Niners, fell out of favor this spring when he declined to play in NFL Europe to hone his skills in live game action. He instead remained with the team during spring workouts, where he was passed on the depth chart by Jesse Palmer, who displayed better recognition skills and more accuracy in his passing.

The 49ers then picked up veteran Shaun Hill late in the spring, paving the way for Pickett's exit from the team.

Pickett, who started two games last season, when he also played on special teams in games and at wide receiver and other positions in practice, did not display the development he needed to show Mike Nolan and other coaches to remain with the 49ers as the team moves forward. Nolan said again on Thursday that he thought it would be difficult for Pickett to make the team this year, as the coach had indicated earlier this spring.

DeLoach – a Sacramento native who played college ball at nearby Cal – gives the Niners more beef in their defensive interior and an experienced veteran to add along their front three at end and nose tackle. DeLoach (6-foot-2, 335 pounds) has 40 NFL starts with 131 tackles, three sacks and 11 passes batted down during his career. He will heighten the competition at nose tackle and allow Anthony Adams and Ronnie Fields to get more time at end.

The 49ers remain hopeful that their last remaining unsigned draft pick – first-rounder Vernon Davis, the No. 6 overall selection – will be under contract before the first day of training camp concludes Friday.


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