SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Eli Harold spent the past two seasons kneeling aside San Francisco 49ers teammates such as Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid as a form of protest of racial injustice during the national anthem.
Harold has changed his stance this year and has stood during the playing of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the first two exhibition games for the 49ers.
Harold said Tuesday he didn’t want to get into details on why he no longer is kneeling during the anthem.
“I understand everyone wants to ask the questions,” he said. “I just don’t want to get into it right now. I’m trying to focus on ball. Me and my wife had a discussion and we feel it’s best right now that I just don’t answer those questions and try to stick with ball.”
The league and the players’ union have yet to announce a policy for this season regarding demonstrations during the anthem after the league initially ordered everyone to stand on the sideline when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played, or remain in the locker room.
Only a handful of NFL players have protested during the anthem this preseason with a few kneeling, staying in the locker room or raising a fist. Niners receiver Marquise Goodwin is the only player to protest on his team so far, raising a fist during the anthem.
While a new policy is being worked out, both Kaepernick and Reid remain unsigned. Kaepernick hasn’t played since the end of the 2016 season and has filed a grievance over the refusal of any team to sign him to a contract.
Reid has not been signed so far this offseason despite coming off a solid season in showing the versatility to play both safety and linebacker.
“He’s a heck of a ballplayer, obviously top five at his position,” Harold said. “It sucks but it’s the nature of the business. I’m praying for him. Hopefully everything works out, but it just sucks. He’s a heck of a player. It hurts me to see what he’s going through.”
The 49ers determined early in the offseason that they wanted Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert as their starters and only offered Reid a one-year minimum contract to come in and compete for a backup spot.
Reid declined the deal and has gotten no significant offers from other teams. Coach Kyle Shanahan said the Niners still would be willing to bring Reid back as a reserve.
“If any really good player wants to come in here on a minimum deal and have a good player to be a backup, that’d be unbelievable,” Shanahan said. “I don’t think that’s what Eric wants. I told you the reason we decided to go that direction is because we made a tough decision, but we had to do it. We went with Tartt. We thought that was the right way to go.
“You can’t give a lot of money to backups, and that’s what he would be if he came here. But, I like Eric. Eric is a good player, he’s a good person. That’d be great if we could add him to that role. I don’t think he would be that interested in it.”
NOTES: CB Richard Sherman returned to practice after being sidelined by a hamstring injury and is on track to play his first exhibition game Saturday against Indianapolis. … DL Solomon Thomas and OL Garry Gilliam have not yet been cleared for contact following concussions in the exhibition opener. … Backup QB C.J. Beathard did not practice and is day to day with a sprained foot.
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