SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – Colin Kaepernick has brought some of his San Francisco teammates closer with his national anthem protests against social injustice.
“Since this stuff started, I’ve had conversations with him on a much deeper level than I ever have,” 49ers safety Eric Reid said Friday. “He’s told me he’s had that same feeling with a number of guys.”
Reid joined Kaepernick’s protest in the preseason finale Sept. 1 in San Diego, with both players taking a knee during the anthem. Previously, the struggling quarterback sat on the bench when the anthem played, protesting social injustices, racial inequalities and police brutality.
“There’s been a lot of open conversations, a lot more conversations going on in general,” Kaepernick said. “And I think ultimately this team and this locker room have gotten a lot closer because of the gaining of understanding of individuals. ”
The decision to kneel was the result of collaboration with former Green Beret and Seahawks long snapper Nate Boyer after Kaepernick received public criticism.
“You’re not going to get a pleasant response,” Kaepernick said. “Most people don’t want change. They’re set in their ways. In order to change, you have to be able to agitate people at times. I think that’s something that’s very necessary for us to improve as a country.”
San Francisco coach Chip Kelly has maintained Kaepernick’s protest has not been a distraction to his team. He named Kaepernick the backup quarterback to Blaine Gabbert ahead of the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.
“I think our team did a great job with it,” Kelly said. “We recognize and respect Kap’s decision and his constitutional rights to do what he’s doing and it sounds like it’s been a positive change. There’s been a lot of positive things that have come out of it.”
After the San Diego game, Kaepernick announced he would donate $1 million of his salary to undisclosed organizations supporting his cause. Team CEO Jed York Thursday announced the 49ers Foundation will match Kaepernick’s donation to local charities in the Bay Area.
“That was huge,” Reid said. “I mean, any time you do something, a protest, you know there’s going to be backlash. You know you can’t satisfy anybody. But for our organization to step up, it feels like we’re supported by the NFL. That’s huge. It gives substance to what we’re doing.”
NOTES: CB Chris Davis (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday. DT Arik Armstead (shoulder), LB Nick Bellore (knee), DT Quinton Dial (knee) and DT Glenn Dorsey (knee) were listed as limited. CB Keith Reaser (ankle) returned to practice and was limited after missing practice Thursday.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.