SANTA CLARA The 49ers followed the baseball Giants by becoming the first team in their league to record an "It Gets Better" video condemning anti-gay violence and bullying. The minute-long segment features defenders Donte Whitner, Ahmad Brooks, Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois.
The video, which was filmed in the spring, came about after fan Sean Chapin gathered more than 16,000 signatures on Change.org that encouraged the 49ers to become the first NFL team to make one.
Chapin also petitioned the Giants to become the first major league team to film an "It Gets Better" spot. Since then, nine other big-league teams including the Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox have followed suit.
The campaign began in 2010 in response to a rash of suicides by students after they were bullied over their sexual orientation.
The 49ers have released the video on YouTube and Facebook, but there are no plans at this time to play it during a game. A team spokesman said the anti-bullying message fits the mission of the 49ers Foundation, which is to "Keep kids safe, on track and in school."
The 49ers have a history of being socially progressive. Former coach Bill Walsh, for example, pioneered a program in the 1980s to help minority coaches get a foothold in the NFL.
As far as gay issues, however, the team's past is more checkered.
In 2002, the 49ers made national news when then-running back Garrison Hearst used a slur when telling the Fresno Bee that he didn't want gay players in the team's locker room.
Longtime 49ers trainer Lindsy McLean publicly revealed he was gay upon his retirement in 2004. McLean's sexual orientation was an open secret at the 49ers' facility.
He has said he mostly was treated with respect during more than two decades as the team's top trainer, but he also has spoken about taunting and harassment by players.