INDIANAPOLIS -- San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's concern for the NFL's first openly gay draft prospect, former Missouri linebacker Michael Sam, is more about the attention he'll receive from the media rather than from the league and its players.
"I truly believe the NFL will handle it," Harbaugh said. "(As for) the locker rooms, I can't speak for every guy, or every single locker room, but I truly believe that, as many players have already commented on it, it will be welcoming. I truly believe that. "I put myself in other people's shoes sometimes," he said. "Say I'm the father, that's my son -- Michael Sam. I would worry more about the media, and wonder if they will allow him to go through the process. Or are they just going to try to make him their daily story, and over-scrutinize, and not give him any room or space to go through the process?"
Sam's decision to make his announcement before the NFL Scouting Combine, giving clubs the opportunity to address the issue in advance of Sam's appearance in Indianapolis this week, sat well with Harbaugh.
"I respect his honesty," Harbaugh said.
Although Sam projects as a linebacker in the NFL because of his size (6-1, 260 pounds), he has been grouped with defensive linemen for the combine. Sam will go through interviews with teams on Friday, speak to the media on Saturday, and perform drill work on Monday. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock projects Sam as a third- to fifth-round draft pick, most likely as a designated pass rusher and special teams player.
"My hope for him is that he gets to go through the process and it's an enjoyable experience for him. And that he can compete to the best of his ability without distractions," Harbaugh said.
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