49ers talk NFL policy on kneeling, state of the team in Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Francisco 49ers held a "State of the Franchise" event Wednesday night for fans at the California Theater in San Jose.

Team leadership discussed what fans have to look forward to this upcoming season but were mum on the NFL's new national anthem policy announced earlier in the day.

"It's still pretty early on, I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing," said DeForest Buckner, defensive tackle for the 49ers.

RELATED: NFL policy requires players on field to stand for anthem

Under the new rule, any player who comes out on to the field during the anthem must stand. Otherwise the team will get fined. Players do have the option of staying in the locker room instead.

"I'm glad I have it an option for the players," Buckner added.

Fans at the event had stronger opinions on the matter.

"Protesting is a personal thing, so when you take that away from people I just feel like it's very unfair," said Chris Seals of Fresno.

"It's not a disrespect to the flag, it's not a disrespect to the veterans. I'm a veteran myself and I'm okay with it," said Jesse Mendez of San Jose.

RELATED: 49ers abstain from vote on NFL policy requiring players on field to stand for anthem

The protests started during the 2016 season right here in the Bay Area, when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started to kneel during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. He was protesting the killing of unarmed black men by police.

The new policy was approved by all the teams, except the Niners. Owner Jed York abstained, saying any real solution needs to take social justice issues into account.

"There's so much more to it than just a player standing or a team employee standing. We want to take a broader approach," said York.

But some call the protests insulting to the flag and our service members.

As we head into the 2018 season, the question is will players stand for the anthem or wait it out in the locker room?

"That is so far away from my mind right now, we're in May, so I'll make that decision then," said Joe Staley, offensive tackle for the 49ers.

Many athletes not ready to cross that bridge.

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