Obama admitted he "hasn't been thinking about football" while in China this week, but he chose not to ignore Kaepernick's decision to sit for the national anthem as a form of protest to the treatment of black people in the United States. Obama gave a very political reaction to the 28-year-old's actions:
"My understanding is he's exercising his constitutional right to make a statement," Obama said. "I think there's a long history of sports figures doing so. I think there are a lot of ways you can do it. When it comes to the flag, and the national anthem, and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us, that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what his deepest concerns are.
"I don't doubt his sincerity, based on what I've heard. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else, what he's done is he's generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about."
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 5, 2016
Per For The Win, Obama continued:
"You've heard me talk in the past about the need for us to have an active citizenry. Sometimes that's messy and controversial and gets people angry and frustrated. But I'd rather have young people that are engaged in the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than people just sitting on the sidelines not participating at all.
"My suspicion is that over time he's going to refine how he thinks about it. Maybe some of his critics will start seeing that he had a point about concerns about justice and equality. That's how we move forward."
The 49ers open the season at home on Monday Night Football against the Rams next week, with Kaepernick behind Blaine Gabbert on the depth chart. San Francisco does not meet the Washington Redskins this year at home or away, but the team does travel to Obama's hometown Chicago Bears on Dec. 4.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.