San Francisco 49ers

Chip Kelly on Kaepernick’s protest: ‘That’s his right as a citizen’

San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly in the NFL pre-season football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara on Friday evening, Aug 26, 2016.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly in the NFL pre-season football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara on Friday evening, Aug 26, 2016. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Chip Kelly on Saturday said Colin Kaepernick's decision to sit during the national anthem has no bearing on his depth-chart status.

In fact, he said Kaepernick remains in a battle with Blaine Gabbert to be the 49ers' starting quarterback when the regular season begins on Sept. 12.

“He’s competing with Blaine to see who our starting quarterback is going to be,” said Kelly, who acknowledged he and his staff spent the day trying to winnow the roster to 75 players, not choose who will start in the regular season.

Kaepernick played in his first game Friday since Nov. 8. He finished 2-6 for 14 yards. All three of the drives he led ended in a punt.

Kelly, meanwhile, echoed the statement the 49ers put out Friday night that said the team would not discourage Kaepernick from sitting during the national anthem, which Kelly said occurred before last week's game against the Broncos as well as Friday vs. the Packers.

After the game, Kaepernick told the NFL Network that he was standing up "for people that are oppressed" and that "it would be selfish on my part to look the other way."

Said Kelly: “We recognize his right to do that. It’s not our right to tell him not to do something. That’s his right as a citizen.”

Kaepernick's actions caused an uproar on social media Saturday, drawing comments from players on other squads. Kelly, however, said no 49ers had complained to him.

"No one has expressed anything," he said. "We'll talk abut it as a team. We're off today. But we'll talk about it (Sunday)."

Colin Kaepernick did not stand during the national anthem Friday and plans to continue protesting.

Sports fans were interviewed regarding 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the national anthem at an NFL preseason game. The interviews were done at Sports Station in Modesto, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. (By Ron Ago

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers

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