Eli Harold said Trent Dilfer's Sunday comments on ESPN about quarterback Colin Kaepernick got him so steamed that he couldn't stand passively during the Monday's national anthem ceremony.
So he raised his fist.
"If a guy wants to stand up and believe in something, you shouldn't shoot him down and talk down on him and say he put himself above the team when that wasn't the issue," Harold said. “... I said to myself, ‘What makes him selfish when he was standing up for what he believes in?’ It makes absolutely no sense.”
Before Sunday’s slate of games, Dilfer said on “Sunday NFL Countdown” that Kaepernick’s job as backup quarterback “is to be quiet and sit in the shadows and get the starter ready to play Week 1.”
“Yet he chose a time where all of a sudden he became the center of attention,” Dilfer said. “And it has disrupted that organization. It has caused friction. And it’s torn at the fabric of the team.”
While Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid knelt during the anthem for the second straight game, Harold and safety Antoine Bethea stood with raised fists. So did the Rams’ Robert Quinn and Kenny Britt. A day earlier, players on the Chiefs, Patriots and Titans held their fists in the air, a gesture made famous by sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 1968 Olympics.
Kaepernick began the protest last month, saying he could not honor the flag of a nation that oppresses minorities. He’s vowed to donate $1 million and proceeds from his jersey sale toward causes that address racial inequality. The 49ers Foundation also has pledged $1 million.
Before the game, 49ers CEO Jed York said of Kaepernick, “It's not easy to make a stand and to do something that's not popular with everybody.”
“I think that's what Colin has done,” York said. “And I think he's done it in a respectful way. He's trying to bring a voice to people he doesn't feel have one. And I think we want to do the same thing. And we're going to try to help him."
With the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter, Kaepernick entered the game for a series. He was met with a mix of cheers and boos as he took the field
A number of observers, like Dilfer, have predicted that Kaepernick’s stance would cause a rift in the 49ers’ locker room. That hasn’t been the case, Harold said, and he said his team’s 28-0 rout of the Rams was evidence.
“He said it’s dividing the locker room,” Harold said of Dilfer. “First of all, how do you know what our locker room is? How do you know how we act in our locker room? Everybody says Kap’s isolated ... Kap is a great guy. He’s smart. He reads a lot. He’s all for the team. His (Dilfer’s) comments -- that just took me over the edge.”