The San Francisco 49ers are wrapping up their media availability on Thursday, and that included Chip Kelly meeting with the media one last time this week. Kelly got several questions about Colin Kaepernick’s protest in light of the Time magazine cover.
Kelly talked about the importance of what Kaepernick is doing. He pointed to the recent shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, and said, “He's shedding light on a situation that's heinous and shouldn't happen in this country.” He talked about how we al have inalienable rights that are being violated, and Kaepernick is shedding light on this issue.
It is nice to see the 49ers head coach focus on the underlying issues more than the method of protest. People have gotten wrapped up in the knee, but we have seen the discussion slowly move to the issues. New York Giants players and coaches recently discussed it with the media, and it brought forth some intelligent commentary.
There was a report last week from Grant Cohn after the team’s Week 1 win that some players grumbled about Kaepernick spending the post-game session talking about social issues. On Thursday, Lowell Cohn asked Kelly if it was appropriate for Kaepernick to answer those questions. Cohn said Kaepernick should tell media he will answer them at another time. Kelly said no, Kaepernick should answer the questions presented to him. It was pretty simple, even if Cohn made it clear he disagreed with Kelly.
The 49ers head coach made sure to emphasize that this has not impacted Kaepernick’s football preparation. He said that Kaepernick is fully focused on football during practice, and does not ask for time to do stuff other than football during that time. We’ve heard Trent Dilfer say Kaepernick should keep quiet and focus on preparing the starting quarterback for his upcoming matchup. Of course, that suggests it is not possible to handle both issues. But we can get into Dilfer all day long.
And so, this all continues. It is not going to shrink away. I don’t know how it will continue to develop, but it will most definitely continue to develop. I think it is reasonable to say it is technically a distraction away from football. But 1) I think these are grown men who can figure out how to focus their thoughts on football when needed, and 2) that also imposes a certain level of importance on football that is unnecessary.