Perhaps following the advice of his agents, or perhaps truly feeling like his protest has run its course, soon-to-be-former 49ers quarterback intimated Thursday that he will be happy to stand for the national anthem prior to football games next season. As ESPN is reporting, via "sources," "Kaepernick no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change that he believes has been created." And, "He also believes the amount of national discussion on social inequality... affirmed the message he was trying to deliver" when he began sitting and then taking a knee during the anthem at the start of last season. In other words: If another team will pay me to play football, I will stop making a stink about black lives mattering.
Kaepernick began his protest during the pre-season in 2016, and was outspoken in his explanation of it, inspiring some of his fellow players to follow his lead. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said at the time. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Kaepernick's decision to end his anthem protest comes just as we learn that he's sold his house in San Jose and will be opting out of his contract with the 49ers to become a free agent, as ESPN reported yesterday. He still has the option to remain with the 49ers, but it sounds like he'll be entertaining offers in the coming week, and the sale of the house makes it seem like he's on his way out the door.
In the course of this past season, in addition to taking a knee during each game's anthem, Kaepernick also donated $1 million to community organizations helping underprivileged people, via his foundation, which the San Francisco 49ers matched with another $1 million in donations. Per ESPN he's also been giving "$100,000 spread over 10 months to organizations all over the country."
As the Mercury-News explains, Kaepernick will be entering free agency alongside all three other Niners quarterbacks of last season: Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and Thad Lewis.