SANTA CLARA -- Thursday's preseason game between the 49ers and Chargers promises to have plenty of red, white and boo.
The Chargers announced that the game will be their annual Salute to the Military and that the national anthem will be sung by Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Powell from the U.S. Navy. The Salute to the Military game is held every preseason by the Chargers to pay tribute to the thousands of military members who live in the area. San Diego is a naval town and has the highest number of military personnel on the west coast.
The game happens to coincide with the arrival of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose refusal to stand during the anthem has roiled a big segment of the country, especially current and former servicemen and women.
Kaepernick explained Sunday that he's protesting against unfair practices and police violence against minorities, not taking a swipe at the military.
"I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country," he said. "I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening."
Kaepernick said he was not worried about his safety in Thursday’s game.
“Not really too concerned about that,” he said. “At the end of the day, if something happens, that’s only proving my point.”
Kaepernick likely will start the contest, the preseason finale for both teams. The game typically is the least important warm-up of the summer, one in which Week 1 starters are held out and only players fighting for a spot on the bottom of rosters take part.
This one, however, will have coast-to-coast interest, especially the pregame ceremony, which promises to have plenty of flag waving.
The Chargers announced that pregame entertainment will be provided by the Marine Band San Diego along with the Frog X parachute team, which features retired navy seals who will descend into Qualcomm Stadium.
While the anthem is being sung, 240 sailors, marines and soldiers will be on the field with a "super" U.S. flag. At halftime six Vietnam War veterans will be recognized as part of a remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the war. At the start of the third quarter, Powell will be back on the field to perform God Bless America.