Kaepernick, whose protest against injustice and police
brutality has been defended by U.S. President Barack Obama and
since spread to other players and sports, will take over for a
49ers team that is 1-4 after losing four consecutive games.
"I think people are realizing the injustices and the oppression
that's taking place in this country and itís something that
needs to be addressed." Kaepernick, 28, told a news conference
after being named the team's starter.
"I think itíd have a huge impact on a lot of peopleís lives and
thatís ultimately what the goal is to affect this country and
those people positively."
By refusing to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the
NFL's 2016 season, Kaepernick has made headlines and set off a
national debate about race relations, policing and the mixing of
politics and sports.
Many other athletes in the NFL and some in the National
Basketball Association have since copied the gesture and the
silent protests have angered some fans who call it disrespectful
to the U.S. flag.
Kaepernick, drafted in the second round by San Francisco in
2011, burst upon the NFL midway through his second season in
2012 when he took over from an injured Alex Smith and led the
49ers to a berth in the Super Bowl.
He was once considered a franchise player and his ability to
either throw or run the ball effectively led many to feel he
could help redefine what it meant to be great at the position.
A stretch of poor play, however, cost Kaepernick his starting
While most backup NFL quarterbacks rarely make headlines,
Kaepernick commanded the national spotlight starting in the
preseason when he first chose to stay seated and then later
opted to kneel during the playing of the anthem ahead of his
Since his protest began in August, Kaepernick's jersey has
become a top-seller and fans at the 49ers' home stadium, have
often chanted "We want Kaep" during games.
Kaepernick went 2-6 last season with a 59 percent completion
rate, six touchdowns and five interceptions.
Sunday's game versus the host Buffalo Bills will mark
Kaepernick's first start since last November.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis and
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