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February 21, 2014
Baalke says Michael Sam comparable to former 49ers fifth rounder


A good NFL comparison to Michael Sam, the Missouri defender who became a national story when he announced this month that he was gay? According to 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, Sam is a similar player to former 49er Parys Haralson.

"He's a young man that's had his hand in the dirt, that's played strong end for them for most of his career," Baalke said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "So I think, yeah, I think that's a fair comparison."

Like Sam, Haralson was a defensive end in college. The 49ers selected him with a fifth-round pick in 2006 and converted him to outside linebacker. Haralson started 68 games for San Francisco in six seasons and had 21.5 sacks over that span. The 49ers traded him to the Saints last offseason for a seventh-round pick.

Baalke reiterated his stance that Sam's announcement would have no bearing on where the 49ers rank him. Baalke said he wasn't aware that Sam was gay before he came out nearly two weeks ago.

"We're going to treat that the same way we would treat any other player," Baalke said. "We're going to evaluate the film, take a hard look at the fit for our organization. What can he do for us on the field, within the community? His decision to come out has no bearing on where we place him on our board."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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