Colin Kaepernick had to duck under a massive American flag to get to the 49ers sideline moments before it was unrolled and stretched across the field for the performing of the national anthem Sunday at Soldier Field.
Later, Kaepernick didn’t duck questions about why the veteran quarterback again kneeled in protest during the anthem or his subpar play that led to him being replaced in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 26-6 victory that sent the 49ers to their 11th consecutive defeat.
Some in the crowd of 46,622 jeered Kaepernick when he and teammate Eli Harold kneeled during the anthem, something Kaepernick has done before games to protest what he believes are wrongdoings against minorities in the United States.
“I will continue to do it,” Kaepernick said after the game. “There are a lot of issues that still need to be addressed.
“And I do think there is significance in being here (Sunday) seeing it’s the anniversary of the assassination of chairman Fred Hampton,” continued Kaepernick, who was wearing a T-shirt with a photo of Hampton, a leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party who was killed during a raid by Chicago police on Dec. 4, 1969. “Being in Chicago, being able to acknowledge that a black figure, a black leader like him is very important and his role in being a leader in this community and bringing this community together is something that needs to be acknowledged.”
Kaepernick’s activism has received more scrutiny than his play, but when it comes to football, he has had better days than Sunday. Much better days.
With snow falling, Kaepernick failed to generate anything through the air and had one completion, a 4-yarder to tight end Vance McDonald midway through the second quarter. Kaepernick finished 1-for-5 for 4 yards and ran six times for 20 yards. He was sacked five times for losses equaling 25 yards and finished with a passer rating of 39.6.
“The weather was something that definitely played a factor,” Kaepernick said. “We have to be able to do a better job of managing that, handling it and being able to throw the ball.”
With the 49ers trailing 21-6 after three quarters, coach Chip Kelly pulled Kaepernick in favor of backup Blaine Gabbert.
“I thought we needed a spark on offense and needed to get something going,” said Kelly, who coached despite his father’s death Friday night in New Hampshire. “We knew we were going to be throwing it every down, so give Blaine a shot. That was it. Nothing more.”
Despite his ineffectiveness, Kaepernick said being pulled “wasn’t something I was expecting,” but he didn’t try to plead his case to remain in the game.
“It’s not my place to really argue on the sideline,” Kaepernick said. “It’s not about my feelings. It’s about being able to help this team win. This coaching staff didn’t feel like I was out there being able to help this team win, so they made a change, whether or not I agree with that.”
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