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49ers players kneel during national anthem, with others placing hands on teammates' shoulders

John Lynch and Jed York were also on the field.

The San Francisco 49ers played last Thursday, so they were not able to demonstrate after President Donald Trump’s comments Friday in which he said NFL owners should fire players who kneel for the national anthem. Trump also referred to those who do so as “sons of bitches.”

On Sunday, half of the team kneeled, while the other half placing hands on the kneeling players. General manager John Lynch and CEO Jed York were also on the field for the demonstration.

The 49ers released the following statement after Sunday’s kickoff:

At its purest level, football is a unifier of people from all walks of life, different socio-economic backgrounds, every corner of this country and around the world. As players, coaches, ownership and staff, we are privileged to work in an environment that is a tremendous example of how people can come together for a common goal. We not only put our differences aside, but we also use them to achieve that common goal by challenging each other to be better - both in our professional and personal lives.

For more than a year, members of our team have protested the oppression and social injustices still present in our society. While some may not have taken a knee or raised a fist, we have all shared the desire to influence positive change. Today, our team chose to publicly display our unity in a new way and, in turn, urge others do the same. Our demonstration is simply a representation of how we hope our country can also come together by putting differences aside and solving its problems.

As the majority of us have done throughout our careers, we use our platform as members of a NFL team, and our right to freedom of expression, to speak up for those whose voice is not heard. It is important that we continue to emphasize that despite our different backgrounds and beliefs, we still love each other and are truly a brotherhood. Our gesture today was an intentional effort to demonstrate that. Make no mistake, we love this great country and have tremendous respect for our military and veterans who have sacrificed so much for our right to express ourselves freely. We passionately want what is best for this country and all its citizens.

On behalf of the San Francisco 49ers organization, we urge our fellow citizens to embrace your differences, find strength in them, and come together for the good of all.

The protest during the national anthem started last season with Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick initially sat for the anthem to protest police brutality and oppression people of color in America face. After a conversation with former NFL player and Army Ranger Nate Boyer, he decided to kneel instead.

This past week, Eric Reid wrote about why he and Colin Kaepernick took a knee in the New York Times, where he also spoke out against Trump. “His remarks are a clear attempt to deepen the rift that we’ve tried so hard to mend,” he wrote.

Since his protest began, other players joined Kaepernick, like Reid. However, when Trump made his comments at his rally in Alabama, it sparked more players to get involved. Since then, it’s also made others make demonstrations of “unity.”

NFL's message of 'unity' has diluted Colin Kaepernick's reasons for protest