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Chip Kelly: ‘We recognize [Colin Kaepernick’s] right to express his feelings’

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The San Francisco 49ers head coach got just a few questions about Colin Kaepernick and the National Anthem. Here’s what he had to say.

Chip Kelly chatted with the media Saturday afternoon in his regular day-after conference call. There was plenty to discuss about the San Francisco 49ers performance against the Green Bay Packers, but the big topic was Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the National Anthem.

Kelly was pretty clear about his feelings on the matter. He said that the team recognizes Kaepernick’s right to express his feelings, and that it would have no bearing on the decision at the quarterback position.

I listened in on the call, and it was clear there were more media than normal calling in. I imagine plenty of national media were looking to get a juicy quotation. They asked about his feelings regarding the protest, but also about the reports that 49ers fans were burning jerseys on YouTube. He had no comment on any of the latter, saying he had not seen anything so he was not going to make any comments about second-hand information.

We’ll have more of Kelly’s transcript later, but in the meantime, here is what he had to say about Kaepernick and the quarterback position.

What was your reaction to QB Colin Kaepernick’s protest and did you know about this before it happened?

“Well, he did the same thing in the Denver game. So, we recognize his right to express his feelings.”

Did he discuss this with you before the Denver game?

“No.”

If he continues to make these kind of stances, is this something that you guys are going to be supporting or taking any kind of actions going forward?

“No, I think the team made a statement last night and again, we recognize the right of any individual to choose to participate or not participate in the national anthem and so does the league. So, the league’s statement is they encourage them, but it’s not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem. So, it’s his right as a citizen.”

Are you aware of the fact that people are burning 49ers jerseys today and how do you guys feel knowing that?

“I was unaware of that.”

Does this have any impact whatsoever on the football side?

“No. No, it does not.”

Have any of your other players expressed any concern over Colin? Has that had any repercussions in the locker room at all?

“No. We haven’t gotten any feedback from any of our players about the situation. I’m sure some of them will be aware of it after reading the accounts today, but no one has expressed anything. You know, we’ll talk about it as a team. We’re obviously off today, but we’ll talk about it tomorrow.”

And where does Colin stand on the football side of it? Do you fully expect him to be on the 53-man roster when the season starts?

“Yeah, he’s competing with [QB] Blaine [Gabbert] to see who our starting quarterback’s going to be.”

Does that mean that you’re still not ready to name Blaine the starting quarterback?

“Yeah. We haven’t had any discussions in terms of starters right now. Our whole focus today was really making our cuts to 75.”

Do you think this is distracting as far as for the fans or any of the players with what’s happening here especially if other players take the same stance?

“Well, I can’t speak to how the fans feel. And again, today’s an off day for us with our players. So, haven’t had any conversations with our players about it. So, I can’t speak to that.”

Did you get a chance to speak with Colin at all?

“No. Just my normal contact with him during the game and what plays we’re running. My conversations with Colin all last night were about football.”

Following this controversy, will you be encouraging him to not repeat this same action?

“No. Again, we recognize his right to do that. So, it’s not my right to tell him not to do something. That’s his right as a citizen.”

And how do you feel seeing and hearing all this negative reaction from 49ers fans across America?

“Again, I’ve been working all day. So, I haven’t talked or listened or read or heard anything. So, we were in here late last night and in early today.”

There have been a lot of YouTube videos posted of fans burning Kaepernick’s jersey. So, how do you feel knowing, I’m letting you know, that this is what’s happening, what is your initial reaction--?

“Again, I haven’t seen any of that. So, to get something secondhand from someone else, I’m not going to make any comments on that.”