San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick downplayed the idea that he shouldn't be publicly taking a stand against racial injustice because he's a backup, as suggested by ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer on Sunday.
Kaepernick continued to kneel during the national anthem ahead of Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Rams. Afterward, he responded to Dilfer's criticism by calling it "ridiculous," per Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News:
I just heard briefly about it. But I think that's one of the most ridiculous comments I've heard. The fact that you say, "You're a back-up quarterback, stay in your place"… that's an issue.
To me, you're telling me that my position as a back-up quarterback and being quiet is more important than people's lives. I would ask him to really have a conversation with the families of people that have been murdered and see if he still feels that way.
Martin Rogers of USA Today noted Dilfer said Kaepernick "is a backup QB whose job is be quiet and sit in the shadows" and suggested his protest was having a negative impact on the team dynamic.
On Tuesday, during a radio appearance on KNBR, 49ers head coach Chip Kelly said, "I think the fabric is beautiful right now," when asked about Dilfer's comments, via Jimmy Spencer of UNINTERRUPTED.
The 49ers showed no signs of lingering tension Monday night, as they cruised to a 28-0 season-opening victory over the Rams. Blaine Gabbert, who earned the starting job over Kaepernick, threw for 170 yards with a touchdown and rushed for 43 more yards in the win.
But the team's backup quarterback continues to receive more attention than everybody else on the roster combined because of his decision to not stand for the national anthem. The Mercury News noted he hopes it's a situation that doesn't last, though.
"Yeah, I don't want to kneel forever. I want these things to change. I do know it'll be a process, and it's not something that’s going to change overnight," Kaepernick said. "But I think there are some major changes that we can make that are very reasonable."
Charlotte Wilder of USA Today pointed out that several players across the league, including teammate Eric Reid, Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, joined the protest by either kneeling for the anthem or raising their fists in solidarity during Week 1.