San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Updated at 3 p.m. Sept. 1, 2016

Colin Kaepernick, who went from struggling quarterback to lightning rod with his decision not to stand for the national anthem, will make a local appearance Thursday night as his San Francisco 49ers take on the Chargers in an exhibition game at Qualcomm Stadium.

Coincidentally, the Chargers will conduct their 28th annual Salute to the Military tonight, including a pregame parachute jump by retired Navy SEALS.

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, an ex-Marine who represents San Diego’s East County area in Congress, said on the ESPN/ABC podcast “Capital Games” that Kaepernick “probably fits in very well in San Francisco,” referring to the city’s more liberal bent.

Hunter said he thinks the quarterback will be booed and receive “a whole lot of negative reaction” in San Diego.

“I think you can combat what Kaepernick’s doing with a show of force on the other side,” Hunter said. “That’s saying, ‘Hey, we respect the flag because it stands for something that’s constant, and that’s the sacrifices and what the American military has done for this country.”‘

The congressman said on the podcast that standing for the national anthem before sporting events brings people together, no matter who they are.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” will be performed by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Powell, while 240 sailors, Marines and soldiers present a U.S. flag and service emblems from all branches of service. Color guards from the Navy, Marine Corps and Army will present the flag.

At halftime, the Chargers will recognize six Vietnam War veterans in a remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the conflict. The team also have wounded warriors as special guests and a patriotic fireworks show to wrap-up intermission.

At the start of the third quarter, Powell will return to the field to perform “God Bless America.”

Kaepernick was seen sitting during a rendition of the national anthem before a game last week and later said he wouldn’t stand to show pride in a flag “for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

The quarterback, who is biracial and grew up with white adoptive parents, came under heavy criticism for his stand, including from Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, who suggested he find a different country. He has also received support for his right to protest.

Chargers fullback Chris Swain, a Naval Academy graduate, told 10News he views the national anthem differently than Kaepernick.

“I stand and show respect for it, but he has the right to do what he wishes and I respect that,” Swain said.

Kaepernick led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, his second season in the league, but has struggled recently, including losing his starting job midway through last season. Friday’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was his preseason debut following multiple surgeries.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.