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San Francisco 49ers WR Torrey Smith joined KNBR and touched on a number of topics regarding the team. Smith stated that last season left a bad taste in everyone's mouth and that it was a great learning experience for the team.
"I really can't complain at all, and the locker room vibe is awesome," said Smith regarding the locker room under new head coach Chip Kelly. "Great team, everyone is focused on trying to win."
Smith was also asked about the controversy surrounding the team's backup quarterback. Colin Kaepernick has decided to sit during the national anthem prior to games. He did so during each of the 49ers' preseason contests. He has stated that the reasoning behind is protest is due to, in his view, the "unjust" actions by this country.
"I'll continue to sit," said Kaepernick regarding his protest. "I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change. When there's significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand."
While the media remains focused on Kaepernick and his protest, Smith stated that the locker room has not been fractured by the quarterback's stance. "Our locker room is probably better than it was," said Smith. "But when Kap made a stance like he did, it made it bigger and there are more people talking. And when you get to learn people's different perspectives, or even help them learn yours or you learn theirs, it made our team better in a lot of ways. And honestly, it hasn't been a distraction at all."
Smith went on to say that if more of his teammates joined Kaepernick in the future, it would help "take the microscope off Kap" and that everyone is creating the impression that he is a big distraction for the team – which he doesn't feel is the case. "They are not trying to talk about what he's protesting for, they're trying to talk about the act itself," said Smith. "As long as the conversation is going, that's a positive thing. But the issues are real, the issues are legitimate."
How does Smith deal with dissent within the locker room? "Everyone doesn't agree," answered Smith. "That's the great thing about this country is we can all disagree but still respect each other. Like, Kap's not going to throw me the ball because I agree with what he's doing. That's just not going to happen. We all have each other's back regardless."
While the players on the team may not always agree with each other, the focus is on football as the 49ers head into their season opener against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. "It's about taking care of football first," said Smith. "That's why we're out here in the first place."