49ers getting early start signing draft picks

The 49ers continue to out-do themselves when it comes to getting their draft picks signed ahead of the NFL curve. The team inked fourth-rounder Jay Moore - the first of San Francisco's five second-day selections in April - to a four-year deal on Wednesday that makes him one of only a handful of rookie draft picks around the league who already is under contract.

That is becoming known as the new way the 49ers have been conducting business since the Mike Nolan/Scot McCloughan regime took control of the franchise in 2005. Before that duo arrived, 49ers management typically waited until the week before training camp rolled around in July until they started making serious efforts to get their draft picks signed.

Moore - the fine-looking prospect from Nebraska who is being converted to edge 3-4 linebacker from the defensive end position he played in college - signed the longest deal that can be offered to a draft pick that was selected outside of the first round.

The 49ers also signed fourth-rounder Joe Cohen to a four-year deal on Thursday. Cohen, a defensive lineman from the University of Florida, was the third of the team's three fourth-rounders, the No. 135 selection overall. Sandwiched between Moore and Cohen was defensive back Dashon Goldson from the University of Washington, the No. 126 overall pick who figures to be signing any day now at the rate the 49ers are going.

The Niners are likely to get several of their other seven 2007 draft picks under contract by the time the team breaks for summer vacation after three weeks of organized team activities that begin June 4.

San Francisco had five of its nine draft picks from 2006 under contract by June 20 last year. The 49ers then had all of their draft picks on the field for the opening day of training camp for the fourth consecutive year when they made Vernon Davis - the No. 6 overall pick last year - the highest-paid tight end in NFL history with a deal that was consummated hours before training camp practices began July 28.

The 49ers signed linebacker Manny Lawson - the No. 22 overall pick last year - to a five-year deal on the eve of training camp. The 49ers also have two first-rounders to get under contract this year with linebacker Patrick Willis and offensive tackle Joe Staley. Willis was the No. 11 overall pick and Staley was selected with the No. 28 pick.

The Niners will attempt to have all of their second-day picks under contract before the team disperses for a five-week summer vacation on June 22. The team reports back to 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara on July 28, with the Niners beginning their regular summer practice regimen the next morning.

The contract terms of Moore and Cohen were not disclosed. Moore, who has returned to Santa Clara for the team's offseason workout program, was the No. 104 overall pick this year, which means his contract figures to be in the $2 million to $2.3 million range.

Last year's No. 104 pick, receiver Cory Rodgers of Green Bay, signed a four-year, $2.075 million deal, though he proved to be a huge bust and was later released by the Packers. Rodgers even spent some time on San Francisco's practice squad after being dumped by Green Bay before finding the same fate with the 49ers.

The NFL has allocated the 49ers $5.421 million under the 2007 rookie salary cap pool to sign their nine selections, according to NFL Players Association salary data. That's the amount of salary cap space the team will be allowed to use to sign this year's picks. The 49ers have the sixth-largest rookie pool in the league.

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