When Rams training camp opened this summer, Los Angeles coach Jeff Fisher explained in a team meeting what he expected during the national anthem: The defensive players stand on the sideline to the left of the 50-yard line, the offense to the right. Helmets are held under the left arm.
“This is important to me,” Fisher said, his meeting captured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. “It’s a respect thing. It’s a self-respect thing. It’s a respect for your teammates. It’s a respect for this game. It’s a respect for this country. This is important to us.”
On Thursday, Fisher softened his stance, saying he has not “placed any demands” on players when it comes to the anthem and understands that 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick can choose not to stand. Kaepernick did not stand during the four anthem ceremonies in the preseason and plans to continue his protest – he vows not honor a flag that oppresses minorities – when the Rams visit Levi’s Stadium on Monday night.
Said Fisher in a conference call: “I do have, however, a respect for the anthem and a respect for this country and a respect for this flag. And I have every right as a head coach and we have every right as an organization to go ahead and express our feelings from that standpoint.”
The Rams are back in Los Angeles this season, and Fisher said there’s a chance to add some heat to a rivalry that has gone cold in recent years. But there’s one thing that needs to occur first.
“We’ve got to start winning games – both teams – then it will start coming back,” Fisher said. “But both sides have a great tradition (and) fan base that remembers some of the great matchups over the years. We’ve got a couple of other teams in the division that we’re both chasing. But I think in time, yeah, this thing will be rekindled.”
Dorsey ready? – Coach Chip Kelly said he expects 49ers defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey will be in uniform for Monday’s season-opener against the Rams, a bit of a surprise given the timing of Dorsey’s knee injury.
Dorsey tore his right ACL on Nov. 22 against the Seahawks and did not play in the preseason. He practiced Wednesday and was held out of Thursday’s session as planned.
“As long as he continues to progress,” Kelly said. “Again, he could get hurt today in practice or have a setback. Seems like he’s on track.”
Dorsey’s return would be a boost to a deep and talented defensive front that doesn’t have a lot of experience. Dorsey, 32, is the only member in his thirties. The next-most experienced player is Quinton Dial, who is entering his fourth year in the league.
Two other defensive linemen, Arik Armstead (shoulder) and Dial (knee), were limited in Thursday’s practice.
Nickel injured – The 49ers’ top nickel cornerback, Chris Davis, missed practice because of a hamstring injury. One of his backups, Keith Reaser, also did not practice because of an ankle sprain.
If neither plays Monday, Dontae Johnson would be available to play the nickel role. Or Jimmie Ward could slide inside on obvious passing downs, allowing Johnson or Rashard Robinson to fill in on the outside.