49ers

Kaepernick takes stand on Civil Rights, sits during national anthem

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Kaepernick takes stand on Civil Rights, sits during national anthem

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick made a statement on Friday night when he remained sitting on the team’s bench during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner at Levi's Stadium.

Kaepernick explained the purpose behind his decision in speaking to Steve Wyche of the NFL Network.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color," Kaepernick said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Kaepernick added: "This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."

The 49ers organization released the following statement late Friday night and confirmed Kaepernick remained seated during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

Many of Kaepernick's recent activity on social media have been focused on Civil Rights, denouncing white supremacy and pointing out racial inequalities, such as a retweet of a post: "In California, 73% of students are nonwhite, but only about 29% of teachers are nonwhite. Couple this with who constructs the textbooks."

Kaepernick also retweeted images of the U.S. and the Confederate flags with the message: “The fact that you really believe that there is difference in these flags means that your [sic] ignoring history." That post has since been removed from Kaepernick's page.

--Afterward, Kaepernick was clearly displeased with the NFL for not giving him approval for him to wear a tinted visor on Friday night against the Green Bay Packers. He has worn the visor throughout the entire offseason and in training camp at a doctor's recommendation, he said.

He warmed up with the tinted visor, then switched to a clear visor for the game. When asked about it, Kaepernick questioned the league's commitment to players' safety.

49ers' Dee Ford envisions 'unfair' competition if only some teams have fans

49ers' Dee Ford envisions 'unfair' competition if only some teams have fans

If the NFL relies on local jurisdictions to determine the extent to which fans can occupy stadiums this season, it could create a disparity of home-field advantages throughout the league.

“At the end of the day, the true advantage is just the energy at home,” Ford said Friday on a video call with Bay Area reporters.

“I definitely feel it’s an advantage, or a disadvantage if you don’t have it. And I guess I do feel like it would be a little unfair.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The start of the NFL regular season is more than three months away, and there is no telling at this point what will be advisable due to the uncertain nature of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Some states might allow full stadiums. Others might insist on social-distancing measures. And other teams might be in locations where large gatherings still are not allowed when the season is scheduled to kick off in September.

“It would definitely be, in my opinion, an unfair advantage, if some teams have fans and some teams don’t,” Ford said. “On the offensive side, you’re dealing with crowd noise. And on the defensive side, it’s more so snap count, chaos.”

Ford said he has also heard of the possibility that some teams might pipe in crowd noise in an attempt to artificially create atmosphere.

“I heard things about the virtual crowd noise,” Ford said, laughing. “I’m going to go out on the limb and say, a couple teams already have that going on, so they won’t have any issues with it.”

Ford did not specify which teams he suspects are producing crowd noise.

[RELATED49ers' Dee Ford rehabbing from knee surgery after playing 'on blown tire']

While some opposing players have expressed skepticism whether Seattle’s decibel levels are authentic, the Atlanta Falcons are the only organization in recent years to be punished for pumping in crowd noise.

The NFL fined the Falcons $350,000 and the franchise had to forfeit a fifth-round draft pick in 2016 as punishment. Also, team president Rich McKay was suspended nearly five months from the NFL competition committee as a result of the violation.

49ers' Dee Ford talks about brotherhood he's developed with Nick Bosa

49ers' Dee Ford talks about brotherhood he's developed with Nick Bosa

The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Dee Ford No. 23 overall back in 2014 despite having two established veteran edge rushers on the roster. That could’ve added some awkwardness to the Chiefs' position group, with a hand-picked newcomer as the heir apparent to an established, well-compensated star.

Justin Houston and Tamba Hali didn’t let that happen. They welcomed Ford with open arms, welcoming him to the team while offering tips and tricks of the trade.

Ford always appreciated that generosity and chose to pay it forward after the 49ers drafted Nick Bosa at No. 2 overall. Ford beat Bosa to the 49ers by but a few car lengths, coming over in what was essentially a sign-and-trade, but still felt compelled to help the rookie out. Bosa was as appreciative of the veteran help as Ford was back in 2014, and the two formed a fast friendship.

“I feel like it was a manifestation of the brotherhood that Tamba and Justin provided for me in Kansas City,” Ford said Friday morning in a video conference with 49ers reporters. “I knew that I needed to do that for Nick as far as embracing him and communicating with him during games. I really feel like we simplified things together. That’s what Justin and Tamba did for me.

“It always felt like practice and we were just out there vibing, having a good time [during games], but we worked hard and we pushed each other. That’s only going to continue.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Ford played the entire 2019 season dealing with tendinitis in his knee and missed games downs the stretch with a hamstring strain, but the two were dynamic when on the field whether playing off opposite edges or next to each other.

That was clear in Ford’s return to action in the NFC divisional round, when Bosa and Ford harassed the Minnesota Vikings from every angle. Bosa sang Ford’s praises after the win, saying how much he impacts games and makes others on the 49ers defensive line better.

“Just having his presence and his pass-rush ability, his knowledge and communication, he's a true vet,” Bosa said then. “It's nice to have him out there.”

[RELATED: 49ers' Ford rehabbing from knee surgery after playing 'on blown tire']

A solid working relationship is all that’s required of NFL teammates, even those in close proximity. Ford and Bosa are developing a legitimate off-the-field friendship that will only serve to strengthen their on-field bond.

“You don’t have to connect on a personal level. Let’s get that right,” Ford said. “But, on a personal level, I really like Nick. We’re growing to love each other as individuals, and that draws you even closer. I’m looking forward to playing more with him. I was only on the field minimal time last year so I’m excited about what we’re going to do next year.”