Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick sits next to Warriors bench in Game 4 vs. Blazers

Colin Kaepernick sits next to Warriors bench in Game 4 vs. Blazers

Colin Kaepernick had a great view of Game 4 of the NBA's Western Conference finals Monday night. 

The ex-49ers quarterback had a courtside seat next to the Warriors' bench at Portland's Moda Center as they squared off with the Trail Blazers.

 

Photo: Logan Murdock

Kaepernick told the San Francisco Chronicle's Ann Killion that he was not in town to visit Oregon-based shoe giant Nike, which is one of his sponsors.  

“Being in the Bay so long, I’ve always followed them,” he told the Chronicle. “And they’ve always supported me.” 

Kaepernick met with Steve Kerr, Andre Iguodala, and DeMarcus Cousins after the Warriors outlasted the Blazers in overtime to advance to their fifth straight Finals.

[RELATED: Kap's rookie jersey has become more than just memorabilia]

Kaepernick played six seasons with San Francisco. He kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games in 2016 in order to protest social injustice and racial inequality. Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Golden State players -- including Steph Curry and Kevin Durant -- have staunchly supported Kaepernick, even as he went unsigned by an NFL team after opting out of his 49ers contract during the 2017 offseason. 

Kaepernick and former 49ers teammate Eric Reid, who was the first player to kneel alongside the QB, settled collusion grievances with the league back in February. Reid signed a lucrative extension with the Carolina Panthers this offseason, but Kaepernick is still not on an NFL roster. 

Colin Kaepernick's rookie jersey has become more than just memorabilia

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USATSI

Colin Kaepernick's rookie jersey has become more than just memorabilia

It started with a distinct high-pitched whiz of the football traveling through the air and then the boom of it hitting the receiver in the hands. That is Aaron Prince’s first memory of Colin Kaepernick. 

It was 2005 at an Elite 11 regional event at California Memorial Stadium and Prince was working as a writer for Rivals covering the recruiting classes of both Cal and Nevada. He knew immediately that Kaepernick was destined for great things and became a proponent for the college prospect following his path to Nevada and beyond.

What Prince didn’t know was that that the young quarterback from John H. Pittman High School in Turlock, California would start one of the most divisive movements in sports history. 

Flash forward 14 years and Prince believes there is another part of the story that is destined for greater things. He owns Kaepernick’s rookie jersey that the 49ers quarterback wore while taking his first regular-season snap in the NFL. 

Prince believes the jersey, a Christmas gift for his wife Celeste, is among the most significant pieces of memorabilia in sports. While it has sentimental value to his family, he believes it should be in a place where more people can appreciate and learn from it, which why he has chosen to put it up for auction. 

“It’s one of those things where he’s become such an icon and an inspiration to so many people that it’s really not just a piece of football memorabilia anymore,” Prince said. “He’s at the level that very few people could ever achieve. 

“I think 50 years from now we will look back at him in the same way that we look back at Muhammad Ali. That’s the closest way I can maybe compare him, because of the difference that he stood for. Even as a former military member I believe that.” 

It was only one snap on October 2, 2011. It started as a change of pace play on third-and-17 in Philadelphia. Kaepernick was likely to take the direct snap and run with the football like he had done so successfully at Nevada. 

The 49ers ended up calling a time out and the play was changed to a handoff to Frank Gore who went for five yards. Subsequently, the team punted and veteran quarterback Alex Smith finished the remainder of the game under center. 

“Ironically, this represents a completely forgettable, blink-and-you’d-miss-it start to a career that ended in the exact opposite way,” said Chris Nerat, football memorabilia expert at Heritage Auctions where the item has been consigned. 

“One would hope that even those who object to Kaepernick’s message or method would respect the courage he’s displayed in sacrificing so much to stand--or, rather, to kneel--on principle,” Nerat added. “History has judged the likes of Muhammad Ali and Curt Flood well, and we suspect that past will prove to be prologue here as well.” 

The relationship between Prince and the Kaepernick family grew over time. Even though Kaepernick had a great performance at Memorial Stadium in 2005, Cal's head coach at the time, Jeff Tedford, didn’t even speak to Kaepernick, already having another player in mind to lead his offense. 

Prince recalls Kaepernick being deflated after Tedford didn’t even come down to the field to meet him. Prince kept Kaepernick in mind, wrote about him, believing he still had a shot at a scholarship. 

“Colin is just one of those kids who stood out to me,” Prince said. “I was really, really happy when Nevada decided to spend their very final spot in their recruiting class on him. I thought he was a difference-maker and it ended up being that he’s the number one football player they’ve ever had.” 

Prince and his wife went to several Wolfpack games and his support for Kaepernick did not go unnoticed by Colin’s father, Rick. They kept in touch through Colin’s exceptional career at Nevada as well as his return to Northern California as a member of the 49ers. 

At the end of Colin’s rookie year, Prince had dinner with Rick and revealed his wife’s longtime fandom of the 49ers and his desire to get her something of Colin’s for Christmas. 

“I think because of the interest that I showed in Colin and recruit interest in general,” Prince explained. “The fact that I noticed him a long time ago, went to a lot of his games and just kept monitoring him and kept up with him. He gave me some cleats, a few signed pictures, and then he walked me back to Colin’s closet and said, ‘Pick any jersey you want.’” 

Prince said the white one he chose was simply the one that stood out to him. He has been questioned why he didn’t choose the red home jersey, but it turns out he chose the one that marked Kaepernick's first snap as a rookie. 

Prince recalled that when Kaepernick signed it for him, he knew exactly which jersey it was, having only two in that first season. The white version for away games, and the red for home matchups. 

Prince is proud and supportive of Kaepernick’s cause but also believes it is unfortunate that it has been the reason he is no longer playing in the NFL. He is one of the many supporters who believe that the quarterback should still be on a roster. 

“Absolutely he should still be playing,” Prince said. “There’s been a number of opportunities out there. Nobody can tell me that Mark Sanchez is better than Colin Kaepernick. No offense to Mark Sanchez, who was a heck of a quarterback in his day, but this is a Super Bowl quarterback and he has very low tread on the tires and still loves the game.” 

[RELATED: How 'Friday' became inspiration for Deebo Samuel's nickname]

As far as the jersey finding a new home, Prince hopes that it goes somewhere where it can bring awareness to what Kaepernick has done and is continuing to do. 

“I don’t want it to end up in a window that no one sees,” Prince said. “I would hope that it would end up in a place that Kap has inspired greatly or to a person who loves what he stood up for, but also understands that he gave up the honor to wear that uniform to stand up for more important issues in this world. Someone who has that understanding.” 

Colin Kaepernick's rookie jersey is available for bidding on ha.com until May 16th, 10 p.m. CST. After that time potential extended bidding could take place. 

49ers veteran will judge Nick Bosa on his merits, not his social media

49ers veteran will judge Nick Bosa on his merits, not his social media

SANTA CLARA -- Nick Bosa’s previous social media activity has been under scrutiny for quite some time, but at least one African-American veteran player on the 49ers' roster said Friday that he'll withhold judgment until he spends time with the team's first-round draft pick. 

"In this game, it's such a brotherhood that it doesn’t take long to find out who a man truly is,” the player said. “Kids make mistakes and say wild stuff. I will judge him by the man he is when I meet him and interact with him over time."

The player added that he only could speak for himself in giving Bosa, the No. 2 overall draft pick, a chance to prove himself. However, it does appear from the support Bosa has received from his new teammates that they will give him a shot. Coincidentally, that support has been on social media

Bosa somberly spoke in his introductory press conference Friday at 49ers headquarters about proving to his new teammates the kind of person he is off the field. It was an “actions speak louder than words” type of statement, as he apologized for a past tweet in which he called former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who's well known for his social activism, "a clown."

“I think once they get in and I meet the guys and they learn who I am, I don’t think there’s going to need any explaining,” Bosa said. “I think they’re going to see who I am as a person, and that’ll be enough.”

Bosa also seemed to look forward to having a fresh start and putting his social media history behind him.

"I definitely made some insensitive decisions throughout my life," Bosa said. "I’m just excited to be here with a clean slate.

"I’m sorry if I hurt anybody. I definitely didn’t intend for that to be the case. I think me being here is even better for me as a person because I don’t think there’s anywhere, any city, that you could really be in that would help you grow as much as this one will."

[RELATED: Football runs through Nick Bosa's blood, and it's easy to see]

49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan also spoke about giving Bosa a fresh start. They acknowledged his past transgressions but believe in second chances.

“That's not something that we like, but I think that was a long time ago,” Lynch said. "And I think we choose to think more about what we've heard from people as to who the person really is, and I think Nick will speak to you all, and I think that we're going to give him a fresh start, and we'd hope that everybody would.”

Said Shanahan: “I think it's not right, but it's also not the person that we've been around, and it's not the person that we believe he is, and it's not the person that we've been told he is by a lot of people that we do trust. I think we're pretty confident that he'll get here and show everyone else that's the same thing.”

Time will tell how Bosa fits in the 49ers' new locker room, but it sounds like he'll be given a fair shake.