NEW ORLEANS -- Cornerback Chris Culliver apologized Thursday for his anti-gay comments and said he would be accepting of a gay teammate.
Neither he, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh nor several players diminished the weight of Culliver's words from a Tuesday interview with a shock-jock radio host.
"It is a big deal," Culliver said. "I'm addressing it so it does not escalate and bring distractions to my teammates."
Thursday marked the players' final media session before Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens. Culliver sat at a round table and was engulfed by dozens of media inside a hotel ballroom.
"I apologize. I'm sorry that I offended anyone," Culliver said. "They were very ugly comments, and that's not what I feel in my heart. Hopefully I can learn and grow from this."
Somewhat baited by radio-show host Artie Lange during Tuesday's Media Day at the Superdome, Culliver said homosexual players wouldn't be accepted inside the 49ers locker room. Two days later, Culliver changed his tune after talking to a gay relative, along with coach Jim Harbaugh, general manager Trent Baalke, CEO Jed York and others.
Harbaugh and Baalke met with Culliver after Wednesday's practice, once the anti-gay comments become widely reported. The team was not addressed as a whole on the matter.
"I'm not trying to approach or talk to many guys because I don't want this to be a distraction," Culliver said.
Linebacker Patrick Willis
Asked what advice he'd give Culliver, quarterback Colin Kaepernick responded: "I'm not here to give advice. That's not my job. I'm here to play football. That's what we have a PR department for."
Harbaugh echoed the 49ers' stance from a Wednesday statement and said he also "rejects" Culliver's anti-gay comments.
"I do believe that there wasn't malice in his heart," Harbaugh said Thursday. "He's not that kind of person. He's not an ugly person, not a discriminating person.
Culliver's role won't change Sunday as he'll serve as the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback and a key special teams player against the Baltimore Ravens. "The game plan is still the same and we go forward from here," Culliver said.
Culliver wished he walked away from the incendiary interview with Lange, who opened by asking the black cornerback how many white women he would have sex with this week.
"His first question was very disrespectful and I felt offended," Culliver said. "There were so many people around and you can't get away from everybody. Guys like that shouldn't be
Culliver noted that he walked away from other reporters "harassing" him at media day, when over a thousand reporters interviewed players and coaches on the Superdome field.
Fellow cornerback Tarell Brown read the transcript of Culliver's interview and was appalled by the questioning.
"It was a crazy setup," Brown said. "I didn't think that was possible at the Super Bowl."
Brown noted, however, that Culliver was wrong for making the comments in the first place. Harbaugh thought so, too.
"It's going to impact him going forward," Harbaugh said. "He will learn about himself. I hope and pray it affects him in a positive way going forward."