INDIANAPOLIS >> Colin Kaepernick will end his controversial stance of kneeling during the national anthem during the upcoming season, but he remains committed to the cause that prompted his actions, a source close to the quarterback said.
Kaepernick made national headlines last year when he was seen sitting during the anthem ceremony before a preseason game. He later began kneeling — teammates Eric Reid and Eli Harold joined him — as a way of calling attention to racial injustice in this country. ESPN first reported that Kaepernick would be on his feet during the anthem this season.
The quarterback’s decision to stand likely will be well-received by any teams that are considering signing him. Kaepernick is expected to opt out of his current contract with the 49ers and enter the free-agent market next week.
San Francisco general manager John Lynch said Thursday that Kaepernick remains an option for the team in 2017 under a more modest contract. He said Kaepernick’s anthem decision did not come up during a meeting the quarterback had with team officials last month in Santa Clara.
“We didn’t talk about it,” Lynch said. “I didn’t think that was important to the meeting we were having. We were having a meeting about, really, just getting to know each other. … I really enjoyed our time.”
Lynch said Kaepernick’s decision to stand wouldn’t affect the 49ers’ analysis of him.
“I respect him for the stance that he’s taking,” Lynch said. “I don’t know if my views necessarily align with the stance he chose, but I certainly respect the right to do and the fact that he stood up for something that’s important.”
Kaepernick has become a national symbol — positive to some, objectionable to others — since his anthem protest began, even appearing on the cover of Time magazine. He’s donated $400,000 so far to like-minded causes and he has sponsored several ‘Know Your Rights’ gatherings during which young people in underserved communities are taught life skills.
Kaepernick will continue all of those pursuits, the source said. He initially refused to stand for the anthem to attract attention to his cause. That attention, Kaepernick reasoned, has been achieved.