The differing opinions between former 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer and current 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took another turn on Tuesday.
After Kaepernick on Monday took exception to Dilfer’s comments that he should be quiet as a backup quarterback, Dilfer took to the radio to explain himself a day later. Opening up a Tuesday conversation on KNBR, Dilfer qualified his previous statement that the backup quarterback’s “job is to be quiet and sit in the shadows.”
"That's the one where it does appear as if I'm saying, 'Hey you, you just go be quiet and what you're standing for, you can't do this.' That's not what I was saying," Dilfer explained.
"I guess where I was coming from was a complete football context. My nine years as an analyst, I'm on record multiple times about being passionate about team dynamics.”
Dilfer cited his experience as a backup in Seattle in the early 2000s, when he says he opted not to use his platform to advocate against childhood slavery -- a cause that Dilfer and his wife felt strongly about.
“My wife and I had been introduced to some really disturbing stuff and other social injustices, childhood slavery in our country. And I'd gone to a couple conferences and seminars where we got really deep into the details about these issues. It became a passion of ours to help fight this battle of childhood slavery around the country and I had a very big platform in Seattle and I could have leveraged being a Seattle Seahawk, being a NFL quarterback, done a lot to get that message out there, but I chose not to at the sake of not wanting to disrupt the team and I didn't want to draw attention to myself, and I didn't want to take it away from Matt, the rest of our team and our preparation to win.”
"I also said I really admire and respect anybody that stands for something and it costs them something, and it cost Colin deeply. Financially he's made a great commitment, reputation wise he's pushed against the grain, and I respect that," Dilfer said. "I just - I don't think it's the right way to do it from a team dynamic."
Following the 49ers win on Monday night, Kaepernick revealed his strong reaction to Dilfer’s initial claim.
"I think that's one of the most ridiculous comments I've heard," said Kaepernick. "The fact that you say, 'You're a backup quarterback, stay in your place' that's an issue. I mean, to me you're telling me that my position as a backup quarterback and being quiet is more important than people's lives.
"I would ask him to really have a conversation with the families of people that have been murdered and see if he still feels that way, because I bet you he doesn't just because he hasn't experienced that type of oppression."
Despite the concessions in his radio interview, and after a 49ers blowout win in Week 1, Dilfer stood by his claims that Kaepernick’s protest "caused friction" and had "torn the fabric of the team."
"I'm not going to back down from my comments because I do believe there was some - if not a little, a lot - of friction. I do believe there was a lot of friction," Dilfer said. "That doesn't mean that the leadership on this team hasn't turned this into unity as well."