ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Before San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem of Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, a loud chant of “USA, USA” rang out at New Era Field.
Kaepernick knelt during the anthem for the first time as a starting quarterback before a regular-season game and was again joined by safety Eric Reid and linebacker Eli Harold in protest of racial inequality and oppression in the United States.
Safeties Antoine Bethea and Jaquiski Tartt, cornerbacks Keith Reaser and Rashard Robinson and running back Mike Davis continued their tradition of raising their right fists during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
As Kaepernick, who on Sunday made his first start since Week 8 of last season, led the offense onto the field, he was greeted by a loud chorus of boos from Bills fans. Those boos continued for the first couple of snaps before dissipating into cheers of encouragement for Buffalo’s defense.
Meanwhile, just off the stadium property, TheMMQB.com reported that outside vendors were selling anti-Kaepernick shirts, including one depicting Kaepernick in the crosshairs of a rifle scope with the words “Wanted: Notorious Disgrace to America” around a photo of Kaepernick.
The fan reaction wasn’t all negative, however, as a group of Bills fans participated in a “kneel in” outside the stadium to support Kaepernick and his cause.
Kaepernick’s first drive as San Francisco’s starter ended in a punt. He ran for 5 yards on the second snap and completed his first pass attempt on the third, a short shovel pass to wide receiver Quinton Patton for a gain of 17 yards. Two plays later, his deep pass to an open Torrey Smith was overthrown and fell incomplete.
Bills fans chant ‘USA’ before Kaepernick kneels – ESPN