Kaeper­nick fires back at Dil­fer

49ers QB says he won’t stay silent on is­sues

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Martin Rogers @mroger­sUSAT USA TO­DAY Sports

Colin Kaeper­nick hit back Mon­day night at ac­cu­sa­tions of self­ish­ness lev­eled at him by ESPN an­a­lyst Trent Dil­fer, de­scrib­ing the crit­i­cism as ridicu­lous.

Dil­fer at­tacked Kaeper­nick on ESPN’s Sun­day pregame show over the San Fran­cisco 49ers backup quar­ter­back’s on­go­ing protest against so­cial in­jus­tice and po­lice bru­tal­ity, lead­ing him to kneel for the na­tional an­them be­fore games.

“I think that’s one of the most ridicu­lous com­ments I’ve heard,” Kaeper­nick told re­porters af­ter the 49ers’ 28-0 vic­tory against the Los An­ge­les Rams at Levi’s Sta­dium. “The fact (Dil­fer) says, ‘You are a backup QB, stay in your place.’ That’s an is­sue.

“To me, you are telling me that my po­si­tion as a backup QB and be­ing quiet is more im­por­tant than peo­ple’s lives. I would ask him to re­ally have a con­ver­sa­tion with the fam­i­lies of peo­ple that have been mur­dered and see if he still feels that way. Be­cause I bet that he doesn’t, just be­cause he hasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced that type of op­pres­sion.

“I hope he goes home and re­ally thinks about what he said and how it im­pacts not just (him) but how it im­pacts peo­ple whose lives are af­fected by these is­sues on a daily ba­sis.”

Kaeper­nick’s ac­tions have gen- er­ated a swath of at­ten­tion and prompted sim­i­lar protests from other play­ers around the NFL. Play­ers from sev­eral teams took a knee dur­ing the an­them Sun­day, raised a fist, or, in the case of the Seat­tle Sea­hawks, stood with arms in­ter­linked.

How­ever, the protests also have en­raged sec­tions of the pop­u­la­tion that think re­fus­ing to stand for the an­them be­fore games is a sign of dis­re­spect.

Dil­fer’s blast was even more pointed, as the for­mer quar­ter­back said that Kaeper­nick “is a backup QB whose job is be quiet and sit in the shad­ows,” while claim­ing that the con­tro­versy has “torn at the fab­ric of the team.” Sev­eral 49ers play­ers have said that Kaeper­nick’s stance has ac­tu­ally helped team unity. Safety Eric Reid kneeled with Kaeper­nick on Mon­day, while team­mates An­toine Bethea and Eli Harold raised a fist. Rams play­ers Kenny Britt and Robert Quinn also raised their right fists.

Kaeper­nick said he was deeply moved by the level of sup­port from play­ers around the league and in­sisted he would not be de­terred by the con­tin­u­ing furor.

“Noth­ing has ever been done with­out crit­i­cism,” he said. “Every great change, whether it is revo­lu­tion or evo­lu­tion of things, there is al­ways crit­i­cism and there is al­ways that ‘I don’t like change’ kind of men­tal­ity.

“In the long run they will see what is go­ing on, they will see what is right, and they will un­der­stand.”

KIRBY LEE, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Colin Kaeper­nick (7) and Eric Reid (35) take a knee Mon­day.

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