Colin Kaepernick may be the most hated player in the NFL, but Chip Kelly has his back.
The San Francisco 49ers coach on Thursday defended his quarterback, saying the veteran is using his national anthem protest to highlight social injustices and bring attention to an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed.
"You look at what's gone on in Tulsa and Charlotte the last two nights, it's an issue that's at the forefront of our country," Kelly said, via the San Francisco Chronicle .
"It needs to be addressed, it needs to be taken care of. Because what's going on is not right. So, I think, again, [Kaepernick] is shedding light on the situation that is heinous and shouldn't happen in this country.
"We all have inalienable rights as a citizen of this country. They're being violated and that's what I think Colin is standing up for."
When it comes to football, however, Kelly says Kaepernick makes his team a priority and takes his role seriously.
"He's at every meeting. He's done everything," Kelly said.
"He understands what his job is and he's balanced it really well. I think he's managed it really well. He's focused, he's dialled in when we're at practice, he's dialled in when we're in meetings."
Kaepernick first began to kneel during the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, explaining his intent to bring attention to the killings of people of colour at the hands of law enforcement.
A number of other athletes and celebrities have since joined Kaepernick's protest, either by wearing his jersey or following his actions.