BUFFALO, NY (AP) — Amid loud chants of “USA! USA! USA!,” San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick knelt for the start of the national anthem in continuing his protest against racial oppression and police brutality at Orchard Park on Sunday.
The game against the Buffalo Bills marked Kaepernick’s first start of the season after Blaine Gabbert was benched.
Kaepernick knelt on the 50 of the 49ers sideline, and joined linebacker Eli Harold and safety Eric Reid. To the left of the kneeling players, cornerback Rashard Robinson and safety Antoine Bethea stood for the anthem with their arms raised.
The entire Bills team stood on the sideline, as players and coaches have done all this season.
Kaepernick was the only San Francisco player not wearing his helmet when the Niners took the field. And he loudly booed while jogging toward the 49ers sideline.
He was pictured getting off the 49ers bus wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Muhammad Ali on the front.
Outside New Era Field, one vendor was selling a T-shirt that said “Wanted: Notorious Disgrace to America,” and featured a picture of Kaepernick throwing a pass and a bullseye aimed at his chest.
Another T-shirt featured a drawing of a kneeling Kaepernick with the words, “Shut Up and Stand Up!” printed.
Kaepernick has caused a national stir with his protest, which began when he sat for the anthem during the preseason. He has since changed his protest and elected to kneel.
Outside the stadium, fans took out their anger on a tackling dummy wearing a Kaepernick jersey.
Kaepernick hasn’t started since 27-6 loss at St. Louis on Nov. 1. He briefly played the following week before being placed on season-ending injured reserve and had three operations to address injuries to his left non-throwing shoulder, left knee and right thumb.
The injuries slowed his development this offseason, and he complained of a tired throwing arm, which led to Gabbert winning the No. 1 job to start the season.
Overall, he has 27-20 record, with his numbers dropping since getting off to an 18-7 start.