Kaepernick sits during national anthem, 49ers defend move

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San Francisco 49ers defended Colin Kaepernick after the quarterback failed to stand for the United States national anthem on Friday.

Kaepernick, who has been mired in a quarterback controversy with Blaine Gabbert to see who will lead the 49ers this season, opted not to rise to his feet for the anthem before the 49ers pre-season game at Levi's Stadium,

His action prompted the 49ers to issue a statement acknowledging that he sat during the anthem, and defending his right to do so following the 21-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

"The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony," the statement read. 

"It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."

Neither Kaepernick, who has been outspoken on his Twitter account about racial issues in the US, nor Gabbert did anything to win the starter's role on Friday, each finishing with 14 yards passing.