San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem during a Friday evening preseason football game.

Kaepernick, whose base salary is nearly $12 million, decided to sit to protest the injustice against African-Americans in the U.S., according to

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Kaepernick was benched last season because of his poor performance and may not start this season. The 49ers released a statement indicating they would continue to observe the national anthem.

"The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony," the 49ers said in a statement to "It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."