The San Francisco 49ers have named Colin Kaepernick as their starting quarterback after a four-game losing streak, the team announced Tuesday, according to NFL.com.
Kaepernick has been the center of major controversy since the preseason because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem as it is played before games in protests against injustice against African-Americans. Other players in the NFL have followed him by taking the same kneeling position or by holding fists in the air.
Niners coach Chip Kelly publicized the decision to bench QB Blaine Gabbert, who has struggled so far this season. He is last in the NFL in yards per attempt (5.9) and has the second-worst passer rating (69.6) in the league, leaving the team with a 1-4 record. Initially Kaepernick had lost the position in the middle of last season and also dealt with injuries.
“We were very analytical and sat down as a staff and watched tape and went over everything,” said Kelly. “We’ve had a couple days to digest everything where we are. I think offensively, we just need to be better and we just need to make a move.”
But Kelly said Kaepernick’s protests, which are continuing, had no bearing on his choice. Still as he holds up the gesture, the criticism over it is still coming in. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a recent interview with Yahoo! called Kaepernick and other athletes who do it “dumb and disrespectful.”
“I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it,” she said. “I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
But others have made their support Kaepernick clear.
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) October 11, 2016
Kaepernick, who led the Niners to Super Bowl XLVII, is set to start against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.