Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan praises Colin Kaepernick’s efforts, says people should ‘respect him a ton’

Jun 4, 2020 at 1:29 PM--

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since the 2016 season. He tried to make others aware of the social injustice that exists in the country during that final year, but his efforts were met with criticism and perceived as controversial by those who did not understand the message. All some saw was a man seemingly disrespecting a symbol of this country, and the military that protects it.

Many believe that cost the quarterback his job in the NFL. Years later, some of his critics are barely starting to realize what was happening in 2016. They are beginning to understand what Kaepernick was trying to do.

49ers cornerback Richard Sherman spoke this week about Kaepernick's past efforts.

"He was really straightforward because this has been an issue forever," Sherman told NBC Sports Boston. "I don't think the message got lost; I think the majority didn't want to hear the message because they didn't feel like it impacted their lives, so they avoided an uncomfortable conversation."

A passionate Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters on Thursday via a video conference call and was asked about Kaepernick and his movement.

"I think the biggest thing that is so hard with the Colin thing is people misunderstanding what he was doing," Shanahan said. "I think that's why the reactions have been hard the last couple of days over things, that people are still confused. Regardless of whether you agree with how he did it or not, that doesn't matter. What Colin was protesting was something that should be respected by all humans. That did take a lot of courage. It is something that is 1,000-percent wrong, and what he was trying to fix and bring light to.

"And, it was hard to bring light to the whole country because people didn't want to totally hear it, and it got diluted with so much different stuff. ... It's three years later, and they're still some people not understanding what his message was. And, regardless, that's too many people not understanding the message that everyone's been giving for a long time. And Colin did it the strongest out of anyone, and people should respect him a ton for that and admire that."

The 49ers have always publicly supported their players' efforts to protest, spread awareness, and create discussion. The team in 2016, shortly after Kaepernick's protests started, donated $1 million to organizations making an effort to create change. 49ers CEO Jed York announced this past weekend that the team was pledging another $1 million again toward the same cause.

"I think people understand it so much more now than they did three years ago and I'm all for protests," Shanahan added. "I'm all for change. I hope the protests cause change. I hope whatever we've got to do to get the change, I'm for it and I know our organization is. I know Jed is, I know our players are. We always have been.

"What's different now and then, it's embarrassing to say, probably, but I think white people are more passionate about it now than then. That's our ignorance and that's what upsets Black people. They have every right to be upset because they haven't just been telling us this the last few weeks. They've been telling us this since our grandparents and I've been hearing it from every one of my friends since I was 14."

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