NBC Bay Area’s Damian Trujillo reported on the moment at Levi’s Stadium and fans at home were quick to notice and capture the move.
The cheerleader for the 49ers – who was still unidentified as of Friday morning – was the only member of her squad to take a knee.
She also appears to be the first NFL cheerleader to kneel. And while she has not yet been vocal about her act, the stage she chose to make the statement is significant.
Athletes have a long history of taking political action, and kneeling was a part of the civil rights activism.
Kneeling during the “Star Spangled Banner” started in August 2016 when Colin Kaepernick, a former quarterback for the 49ers, chose not to stand for the National Anthem. He said the action was meant to call attention to police brutality and racial inequality. Athletes across the country are still following in his lead.
This may be a first for NFL cheerleaders, but it’s not for cheerleaders in general. (Georgia Tech dancer Raianna Brown went viral in 2017 for kneeling and linking up her arms at Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, one of a number of cheerleaders at the college level to kneel.)
The NFL’s National Anthem policy, which would have required players to stand for the Anthem or stay in the locker room, is currently on hold as the league negotiates with players.