SANTA CLARA–Last Sunday, approximately 30 49ers’ players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before the team’s game against the Arizona Cardinals to protest the oppression and injustices they see in society.
Starting safety Eric Reid was among the first 49ers to begin protesting during the national anthem, as he joined former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and linebacker Eli Harold during protests last season.
On Wednesday, Reid spoke in the 49ers’ locker room about the effectiveness of the anthem protests, and said that he believes the protests are getting through to more people. The LSU product and Louisiana native admitted that there are certain people who refuse to listen to what he and his teammates have to say about the injustices they see in society, but he’s hopeful the actions the 49ers are taking will continue to make an impact.
“I think we’re starting to get through to people,” Reid said. “I think there’s obviously always a portion of people that don’t care, don’t want to listen, they’ll think what they want to think based on the headlines. But I think we’re getting through to people. We’ve got to keep talking and we’ve got to take those conversations and put them into action. Whether that’s with the elections coming up with the district attorneys as I talked about before, or with the president whenever that happens, we’ve just got to make better decisions as a country to reverse what’s happening with the justice system and with the system in general. I know those are vague terms that some people don’t really understand, but you’ve got to understand how the system got to where it is today, so we need some big changes to get us out of this hole.”
Reid said he believes the 49ers’ protests have been helped by the open-mindedness of a more progressive fan base in the Bay Area, and said it may have been harder to stage a protest if he was doing so in his home state.
“I think so,” Reid said. “I think people are more open to it here, whereas if I were in Louisiana which is where I’m from, it probably would have been met with a lot more push-back just because it’s the south. That’s just the way it is. So I think it has helped us being from California.”
Reid and head coach Kyle Shanahan have not yet met to discuss if the 49ers’ anthem protests will continue this week, but Shanahan said he’s open to discussing potential protests with his players.
“As far as going forward, they haven’t mentioned anything to me,” Shanahan said. “I’m assuming that we’ll go back to doing whatever you’ve done for the flag the rest of your life. I know I will. If they bring anything to my attention that they’d like to do, then I’ll have that discussion with them.”
The 49ers’ released a statement shortly after the national anthem played in Glendale, Arizona last Sunday, and said that all of the team’s players have a shared desire to influence positive change in society. The statement read that the 49ers’ protest on Sunday came in an effort “to speak up for those whose voice is not heard” and to show that “despite our different backgrounds and beliefs, we still love each other and are truly a brotherhood.”
Shanahan said he thinks his players were happy with how the protest unfolded.
“Yeah, I’m not sure how it came off because I was standing there looking at the flag,” Shanahan said. “So, I’m not sure how it came off. That’d be more me asking you guys. But, I think the players were happy with it. They never got, I think what was different for us was we never got our opportunity after what happened the week before. So, I think everyone wanted the opportunity to show the unity and show that we were together regardless of any differences of opinion. I think the players were pleased with that.