Colin Kaepernick, whose national anthem protest has been the biggest story of the football season so far will start his first game for the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday agains the Buffalo Bills, coach Chip Kelly announced today.
“Just to announce, we’re going to make a move at quarterback and we’re going to start Colin this week and give him an opportunity to run with the ones,” Kelly said, adding, “It’s got nothing to do with his contract.” Kelly also noted: “It’s a football decision.” This is coming after five weeks of watching Blaine Gabbert struggle as the starter, a big reason why the team has only recorded one win so far.
Kaepernick, whose protest started during the preseason, stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” His decision not to stand during the anthem has resonated with some of his fellow players and other athletes, and it’s drawn criticism from the likes of Donald Trump and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
But as Kelly points out, this is about football. And as a football player, Kaepernick has had some degree of success since taking over for Alex Smith at quarterback in 2012. The hope is that the player that helped lead his team to Super Bowl XLVII (where they were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens) can find some way to help the sputtering San Francisco offense that is currently ranked 31st in the NFL.