SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) --San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick's fellow teammates addressed the debate surrounding the quarterback's decision to sit during the national anthem.
Kaepernick said he's going to continue to sit through the anthem before the 49ers' final preseason game against the Chargers on Thursday.
The quarterback did not take questions from the media Tuesday, but he and his teammates were all smiles inside the locker room, with many of them saying that football remains the focus.
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On Tuesday at the 49ers' practice facility, some came to the defense of one of their teammates. "It's not easy doing the unpopular thing, and I respect him that much more for doing that," 49ers' Eric Reid said.
In recent days, a conversation on race relations all centered on Kaepernick's decision to sit during the National Anthem.
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The quarterback is sharing his frustration over what he calls the oppression of minorities in the United States.
Teammates said Kaepernick shouldn't be attacked for his views. "If you listen to what he is saying, about how he feels about the issues in this country, you have to respect that. He's voicing his opinion, he's using this platform to get his opinion out there, to bring awareness to something that he feels very strongly about," Reid said.
VIDEO: 49ers coach talks preparing for Chargers game, weighs in on Kaepernick's anthem protest
And despite the extra attention, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Chip Kelly had nothing but praise for the work that Kaepernick's been doing. "When he's here, he's all about ball, so that's what I deal with and that's how we interact, he's been great," Kelly said.
As the team looks ahead to their preseason finale on Thursday in San Diego, a city known for its sizable military population, some players say they're just trying to block out any distractions. "A long 17 weeks, and then hopefully playoffs after that, and you know we just work hard and just control what we can control, and continue to get better," 49ers' Garrison Smith said.
Kaepernick will start as quarterback against the Chargers.
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