Taking a knee: How Colin Kaepernick started an NFL movement
The 49ers admitted on Friday they mistakenly omitted former quarterback Colin Kaepernick from an online photo gallery depicting some of the team’s best moments against the Green Bay Packers. The snafu was first discovered by Pro Football Talk and caused some backlash on social media.
“Unfortunately there were a handful of obvious misses in this gallery posted by our website team and we appreciate them being brought to our attention,” a spokesman wrote in a statement to The Bee. “The 49ers organization has tremendous respect and gratitude for the contributions Colin made to our team over the years. We have fond memories of those games and that should have been displayed on our website. This oversight does not properly reflect the appreciation our ownership and this team have for Colin.”
Kaepernick had one of the best statistical performances in postseason history against Green Bay in January 2013, when he set a record for quarterbacks with 181 rushing yards during an impressive 45-31 victory in his playoff debut. San Francisco went to the Super Bowl but came up five yards short of its sixth Lombardi Trophy against the Baltimore Ravens.
Some viewed the team’s exclusion of Kaepernick from the gallery as an attempt to distance it from the polarizing figure who began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.
“That organization disrespects their fans by trying to eliminate Colin from their history,” tweeted Nessa Diab, Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Friday morning. “Just like the rest of the league, they too will be remembered as cowards.”
The team has since added photos of Kaepernick from that game, the playoff victory at Lambeau Field following the 2013 season and the 2014 season opener in which Kaepernick threw for a career-best 412 yards.
Kaepernick remains out of the league and hasn’t played since the 2016 season finale. He has remained active and outspoken in his protest against racial inequality and police brutality, donating $1 million to various charities during the first 12 months since he began his protest. His collusion case against the league remains ongoing.
The 49ers lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending ACL injury Sept. 23 in Kansas City and have indicated they have no intention to bring back Kaepernick despite having just two quarterbacks. C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens joined the club in 2017, months after Kaepernick was not retained by new coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.
“I think I made that decision just with the style of offense that we wanted to go with. That’s kind of what I said last year and it’s kind of the same situation now,” Shanahan said. “C.J. is our guy and we have Nick Mullens backing him up. So, when you get into a third and fourth guy, whoever that is, you’d like to bring in guys that you felt you didn’t have to change as much of your offense for.”
The team has since pointed out that other photos galleries published over the past year included Kaepernick. The initial gallery this week also did not have any pictures of Terrell Owens’ “The Catch 2” when he made the game-winning touchdown grab against the Packers in the wild-card round of the 1998 playoffs.
“I think when you’re in this role, everything falls on your radar,” general manager John Lynch said on KNBR Friday morning. “I just learned about it a couple minutes ago. Obviously, from our part, a glaring omission. From ownership on down, we got so much respect for his contributions to this franchise. And against the Packers, anyone who’s a fan of football, let alone any 49ers fans, knows that he has a great part of history against the Packers. We’re looking into, right now, how that happened. We’re trying to rectify it. I just learned about it. Not something that I’m proud of. It’s a glaring omission, as I said, and we’re working right now to get that fixed.”
The 49ers elected not to bring back safety Eric Reid and traded away linebacker Eli Harold to Detroit in August. They were the two players that first joined Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem. Harold has three sacks for the Lions while Reid recently signed a one-year deal to join the Carolina Panthers.