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Chip Kelly has Colin Kaepernick’s back, says he’s not a distraction

49ers Chargers Football

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick warms up for the team’s NFL preseason football game against the San Diego Chargers, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)


Colin Kaepernick has become the most visible backup quarterback in the NFL, with a political stance that has landed him on the cover of TIME magazine.

But 49ers coach Chip Kelly has no problem with any of that, and said he supported the way Kaepernick has handled his business.

When he’s here, he’s going full-bore,” Kelly said, via Matt Maiocco of “We’re here until 8:15, when we get here in the morning, until 5, when we leave. He’s at every meeting. He’s done everything.

“There hasn’t been any, ‘Hey, coach, I need some time because I got this going on.’ He hasn’t done that. He understands what his job is. He’s balanced it really well, and he’s managed it really well. He’s focused. He’s dialed-in when we’re at practice. He’s dialed-in when we’re at meetings.”

Kelly has consistently supported Kaepernick’s decision to sit or stand through the national anthem to protest police brutality and unfair treatment of minorities, and doesn’t expect his players to divorce themselves from current events.

“I think it’s an issue – you look at what’s gone on in Tulsa and Charlotte in the last two nights,” Kelly said. “It’s an issue that’s at the forefront of our country and it needs to be addressed, needs to be taken care of, because what’s going on is not right.

“I think he’s shedding light on a situation that is heinous. It shouldn’t happen in this country. We all have inalienable rights as a citizen of this country that are being violated. That’s what I think Colin is standing up for.”

Not every coach would welcome a player becoming a focal point for non-football issues, especially a backup player. But Kelly has proven himself willing to go against the grain on other issues, so this probably shouldn’t be a complete surprise.