San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneels during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals. Marcio Jose Sanchez
chance to impress

Controversial Colin Kaepernick to get first start of season

He replaces Blaine Gabbert, who has started all five of the 49ers games this year.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS quarterback Colin Kaepernick will make his first start of the season in this weekend’s clash with the Buffalo Bills, the team confirmed Tuesday.

Kaepernick, who has been the focus of fierce debate over his protest of the US national anthem, is being called into the line-up as the 49ers struggle to turn around a dismal 1-4 start to the season.

He replaces Blaine Gabbert, who has started all five of the 49ers games this year.

“I think we were very analytical and sat down as a staff and watched tape and went over everything,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “We’ve had a couple days to kind of digest everything, where we are.

“I think offensively we need to be better and we need to just make a move. It’s not Blaine’s fault. I think it’s just as a group, offensively, we need to be better in a lot of ways so we’re going to see what we can do to make a move here.

“It’s really one of the only maneuvers we can make based on our depth, where we are, and what we’re doing.”

Kaepernick’s last competitive start came during a 27-6 loss to the St. Louis Rams on November 1 last year. He played one more contest before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

Gabbert struggled through a patchy performance in his last outing, suffering two interceptions and making only 18 of 31 passes for 162 yards as the 49ers were beaten by the Arizona Cardinals.

Kaepernick’s first start of the season is bound to revive attention on his silent protest of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Kaepernick has refused to stand for the anthem in what he says is a protest against social injustice and racial inequality.

Although his actions met with a fierce initial backlash, Kaepernick has won support for his protest with several other athletes emulating his decision to kneel during the anthem.

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