SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Colin Kaepernick is standing behind his decision not to vote in the presidential election or even register to take part in the democratic process, saying he can effect change in other ways besides through a ballot.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback has knelt through the national anthem all season to protest police brutality and the treatment of minorities, drawing criticism and acclaim alike. He took more heat for not voting last week.
"I thought a lot of different things about the process and what I could and couldn't do," he said Tuesday. "Once again, the system of oppression is what I have an issue with. ... I don't agree with the system of oppression and that's something that I will continue to not agree with."
For those wondering why he chose not to vote even on local issues that could influence what happens at home in the Bay Area, Kaepernick said, "There's more than one way to create change."
"I'm comfortable with everything that I'm saying, what I represent and who I am," he said of his growth into an outspoken activist, given how much he once disliked speaking publicly. "At that point in time, there was a situation where I didn't feel comfortable talking because I didn't want my words used against me and now I know if I represent my words properly, what my stance is, who I am properly, that those words can't be used against me."
Kaepernick has perhaps bigger issues at work: His Niners (1-8) have lost eight straight games and have a daunting challenge ahead with Tom Brady and the AFC East-leading New England Patriots (7-2) coming to Levi's Stadium on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Kaepernick regained his starting job from Blaine Gabbert last month. He has thrown five touchdown passes in four games with two interceptions and has been sacked 11 times — though he considers the offense to be making progress. And Kaepernick is back around his 2015 playing weight and feels healthy again following surgeries to his right thumb, left knee and non-throwing left shoulder, where he had a torn labrum repaired.
"I feel like I'm starting to get some of my wiggle back, some of the movement, starting to feel very comfortable with where my health is, how my body's moving, those things," he said.
Last Wednesday, following Donald Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton, Kaepernick was asked his reaction to the election results.
"I really didn't pay too close of attention because I have been very disconnected from the systematic oppression as a whole, so for me it's another face that's going to be the face of that system of oppression," he said. "To me it really didn't matter who went in there, the system's still intact that oppresses people of color."
After Sunday's loss at Arizona, Kaepernick noted: "I think it would be hypocritical of me to vote. I said from the beginning I was against oppression, I was against the system of oppression. I'm not going to show support for that system."
The Sacramento Bee first reported that Kaepernick has never registered to vote.
NOTES: LB Aaron Lynch returned to practice after missing the past two games with a high ankle sprain. ... WR Torrey Smith and DL Quinton Dial didn't practice. ... The Niners signed OL Colin Kelly to the practice squad and placed OL Fahn Cooper on the practice squad injured list.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL