Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has altered his stance and will stand during the national anthem next season, ESPN reported on Thursday.
The decision comes on the heels of Kaepernick hiring new agents, who told all 32 NFL teams that the quarterback would opt out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers and will be available when free agency begins March 9.
Kaepernick initially said that his national-anthem protest was meant to bring attention to social and racial injustice. Now, according to ESPN’s report, the 29-year-old will no longer kneel for the anthem to avoid a possible distraction for a new team.
Kaepernick doesn’t want the “past method of protest to detract from the positive change that he believes has been created, per sources,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said.
Kaepernick started the campaign of kneeling during the national anthem as the 49ers’ backup behind Blaine Gabbert before taking over as the starter on Oct. 16 against the Buffalo Bills.
With Kaepernick under center, the 49ers lost nine straight and 10 of 11 overall to finish the season with the second-worst record in the NFL at 2-14.
Kaepernick threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions while fumbling a career-worst seven times. He also ran for 468 yards and two TDs.
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