SANTA CLARA – John Lynch, the 49ers’ general manager, used a word Wednesday while stating his opinion on national anthem protests that could only be described as divisive.
That word that Lynch said he regrets using was “divisive.”
Lynch clarified his stance Friday morning on an appearance on KNBR, the flagship station of the 49ers.
“If I could take one thing back, I would have changed that word, because of the negative connotation," Lynch said. "But I was really trying to make the point that our game should be a beacon for what can be."
During his initial comment two days earlier during a press conference at Levi's Stadium, Lynch spoke about football's role in bringing together individuals from all backgrounds:
”I think it’s a great beacon for the rest of culture in terms of the way it should be. You strive for a common goal and you have unity. And I think this game brings people together. So, I think personally, when I see that, I think that’s divisive. …”
The movement started a year ago with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to social inequality and police brutality against minorities.
Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett has been the most outspoken in carrying on Kaepernick’s protest this summer.
There is added attention on protests in light of the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, which featured white supremacists and President Trump’s statement that there was blame to be shared on “both sides."
Philadelphia safety Malcolm Jenkins raised a fist on the sideline Thursday night. Teammate Chris Long, who is white and attended the University of Virginia, put his arm around Jenkins. Lynch referenced the scene on the Eagles sideline during his interview with Brian Murphy of the KNBR Morning Show.
"I'm glad you brought this up because I'm having, for the last couple of days, a lot of thought, a lot of waking up in the middle of the night thinking about what I said and how people perceive that," Lynch said.
"You know, when I saw that picture of Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins, I think that's exactly what I was speaking to and what I think is so great about football, of how I think our society can be and how it should be, of people coming together."
Lynch said he was at his family’s home in San Diego and with his 10-year-old daughter when the unrest was unfolding in Charlottesville.
“It’s sad, it’s disgusting, it’s unbelievable that these things still exist,” Lynch said. “So I want to go a step further -- not only do I respect, but I understand the motivations of these players that are trying to do something about it. I want to be very clear with that, that’s where my heart is.”