In light of Michael Sam's decision to address his sexual orientation, we've heard a few anonymous personnel people providing comments of concern. Fortunately, more people are going on the record with comments about Sam and his draft status. Trent Baalke and the 49ers provided a statement this evening:
GM Trent Baalke on Michael Sam: "The 49ers commend Michael for the courage he has displayed, as he continues to pursue his NFL career…"— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) February 11, 2014
Baalke continued: "…We have and will continue to evaluate him as we do every draft eligible player…"— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) February 11, 2014
Baalke continued: "…which is always based on their projected contributions to our team on and off the field."— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) February 11, 2014
I realize public statements can be considered window dressing that mean nothing. While we can only take them at face value, I also think there is value in going on the record in any form or fashion. This is not a surprising comment, but in this day and age where the world is still fighting for true equality, it's an important statement.
Any lack of official statement on Michael Sam's situation is certainly not indicative of prejudice or anything of the sort. But going on the record adds a little oomph to the situation. At this point, from a 49ers perspective, there is not much left to do other than get ready for free agency and the 2014 NFL Draft.
If Sam ends up with the 49ers, there will be plenty to talk about. If he ends up elsewhere, there won't be as much to talk about from our perspective. I may chime in every so often if something interests me, and I think it is perfectly reasonable to do so. While some view this as "not a big deal" and some are wondering why we're bothering to talk about it any further, well, it's because this is very important. One day this will not be important, but to get to that day, we need to have trail blazers like Michael Sam. And so for now, we move onward and upward.
In terms of actual football, if he were to slip particularly late, maybe the 49ers grab him as a BPA value pick. But in terms of fitting needs, I'm just not sure I see him fitting what the 49ers do. They do not rotate in pass rushers like the Seahawks do, but rather, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks handle the bulk of the load. Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta will likely get more opportunities next year, but I just wouldn't see a tweener like Sam making a dent in the rotation. He is a developmental option, so there is always that, but I think the 49ers have enough other needs that they will address other positions first.
On to the Combine!
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