Colin Kaepernick kneels during national anthem while former Green Beret Nate Boyer stands beside him

Former Green Beret Nate Boyer, second from right, stands next to a kneeling Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem on Thursday.
(Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick continued his protest against social injustice Thursday night by kneeling during the national anthem before the 49ers preseason game in San Diego. And he did so next to his invited guest on the sideline, former Green Beret Nate Boyer.

Boyer, a former long snapper for the Texas Longhorns, remained standing during the anthem.

Kaepernick has faced criticism all week for sitting during the national anthem for the 49ers first three preseason games, with many saying the gesture was disrespectful to those who have served our country in the military.

Colin Kaepernick takes a knee during national anthem in San Diego and is booed »

In a thoughtful open letter posted on the Army Times website earlier this week, Boyer expressed a willingness to listen to the quarterback’s thoughts behind his protest.

“Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it,” wrote Boyer, who spent last summer in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks.

“There are already plenty of people fighting fire with fire, and it’s just not helping anyone or anything. So I’m just going to keep listening, with an open mind.”

Kaepernick invited Boyer to have a discussion with him before Thursday’s game, and the two men talked for about 90 minutes, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer.

“Being able to move forward and understanding what his message is but also understanding what that flag means is important,” Boyer told Glazer. “We talked about change a lot and how to get positive change to happen. We talked about issues that are taking place in this country and how to prompt change, but I also reminded him the great freedoms and luxuries we have in America.”

Afterward, Kaepernick asked Boyer to join him on the sideline, where the quarterback decided to kneel instead of sit during the anthem. Also, during a timeout, the public address announcer asked fans to recognize active military personnel — Kaepernick stood and applauded with everyone else.

“I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech, and my freedoms in this country, and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee,” Kaepernick said after the game. “So I have the utmost respect for them, and I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.”


Op-Ed: Colin Kaepernick's problem: Angry responses always drown out the reason for a protest

Long before Kaepernick sat, L.A. teacher stood up to authority in anthem protest

In the 'land of the free,' are you free to sit out the national anthem?