It has been an interesting week in America. While dealing with the pandemic, every state in the country is seeing protests after the tragic murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police.
Many individuals and organizations are speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which the San Francisco 49ers also did on social media:
Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick shined a light on the issue of police brutality against unarmed African American people and minorities across the country when he began kneeling during the National Anthem prior to games during the 2016 season.
Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the Niners prior to the 2017 season, and hasn’t been signed by another team since. Many feel the NFL blackballed Kaepernick, but he was able to get a financial settlement from the league.
Many athletes reacted to the 49ers’ social media post on Tuesday, citing a lack of support from the organization for Kaepernick’s protest, including former Niner Eric Reid, who knelt next to Kap:
I think you meant Blackball Tuesday...I digress https://t.co/S0r7IHd7DZ— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) June 2, 2020
Crazy! Just remember every NFL player, executive , owner, and president who talk bad about Kap peaceful protest... This is what he was talking about.. No more dancing around the topic.. You either with us or not. Pick a side https://t.co/GYMcLs2x9Z— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) June 3, 2020
While all of these athletes are fair to support Kap’s message, they are a bit misguided that the Niners are the reason he hasn’t found another job in the league.
When general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan took over in 2017, they informed Kaepernick that they planned to release him, but gave him the chance to opt out of his final year, which he did.
In my opinion, this was warranted at the time. Kap’s play had regressed from the player we saw during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. It was obvious he wasn’t a fit in Shanahan’s system, so I felt the timing was right for both him and the organization to move on, regardless of the protest.
It depends on who you ask, but a couple of former Niners had differing opinions on how supportive the organization was of Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem.
When 49ers’ CEO Jed York tweeted out that the team is donating $1 million to national organizations that are committed to change, Reid clapped back:
Nobody wants your money Jed. We want justice. We’ve always wanted justice. Y’all are truly diluted. https://t.co/wWLEpDF3nt— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) May 31, 2020
Former receiver Torrey Smith spoke out in support of York:
Reid replied to Smith’s tweet:
You speak based on your experience and I understand that. However, I can tell you that you never heard him say “don’t kneel” because you never knelt. He begged me not to kneel. https://t.co/UrNPW3YzOG— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) May 31, 2020
Chip Kelly, who coached San Francisco in 2016 said he was in support of Kaepernick’s message. Kap’s teammates voted him the winner of the Lou Eshmont Award, which goes to the player they believe best exemplifies inspirational and courageous play.
The fact no other team signed Kap — who finished with 16 touchdowns, four interceptions and a QBR of 49.5 in 2016 — while players like Blaine Gabbert and Brock Osweiller were getting jobs never sat right with me. He should have been signed by another squad based off of what he brings to the team on the field.
But, I do feel it is unfair of athletes blaming the 49ers for not supporting Kaepernick. He wad going to be a fit under the new regime’s on-field plans, and I think the decision to move on was made because of that, not due to the protest.