Colin Kaepernick has dominated the news this week after his decision to remain seated during the national anthem in Week 3 of the preseason became public. This week, when the Niners took on the Chargers, Kaepernick was not alone in his protest. Safety Eric Reid chose not to stand as well.
Earlier in the week, Reid voiced his support for Kaepernick's decision.
"I think it would be foolish if you were to say there isn't an issue in this country with minorities," Reid said, via CBS Bay Area. "There's a million issues in America and this is something he feels strongly about and I respect him for voicing his opinion on it."
Kaepernick said Sunday that he planned to continue his protest, and after addressing the team and explaining his perspective, his teammates expressed support for his efforts to draw attention to the ongoing oppression of black Americans in the United States.
Head coach Chip Kelly acknowledged Kaepernick's right to protest but said it didn't shift the team's focus from preparing for the final preseason game and for the regular season.
"We recognize his right to express his feelings, but that doesn't affect what we do at 8:15 in the morning until we leave at 8 o'clock at night," Kelly said. "We're all about preparing for the Chargers game obviously this Thursday and, more importantly, for the Rams season opens up on Monday night."
Prior to the game, Kaepernick met with Nate Boyer, former Green Beret and NFL long snapper, to discuss his decision to protest. Boyer had written an open letter saying that Kaepernick has the right to protest, but that he wished to understand better where Kaepernick was coming from.
Boyer and Kaepernick spent about 90 minutes together before the 49ers faced the Chargers. According to Fox’s Jay Glazer, the meeting was productive.
"Being able to move forward and understanding what his message is but also understanding what that flag means is important," Boyer said, via Glazer. "We talked about change a lot and how to get positive change to happen. We talked about issues that are taking place in this country and how to prompt change but I also reminded him the great freedoms and luxuries we have in America."
Following the game, Kaepernick explained that he and Reid chose to kneel, not sit, after their conversation with Boyer.
"We were talking to him about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from fighting for our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are," Kaepernick said. "And as we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee. Because there are issues that still need to be addressed and it was also a way to show more respect to the men and women who fight for this country."
Colin Kaepernick, on plans to donate $1 million to communities & how today's kneel-protest emerged pic.twitter.com/NMsp2gqZM7— Cam Inman (@CamInman) September 2, 2016
Boyer attended the game as a guest of the 49ers and watched from the sideline with the team. He stood directly to Kaepernick's left during the anthem. Jim Trotter of ESPN said that Reid and Kaepernick hugged each other after the anthem, as did Kaepernick and Boyer.
Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also remained seated during the anthem before Seattle played the Oakland Raiders. Lane said that he was "standing behind" Kaepernick and would continue to sit "until I feel like justice is being served."