MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami/AP) — Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium there was a little more going on than just an NFL game.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has gotten a lot of attention in South Florida over the past week and much of it doesn’t have anything to do with football despite him being in town to face the Miami Dolphins.
Kaepernick threw three touchdown passes, ran for 113 yards and nearly rallied the woeful 49ers from a 17-point deficit in the final eight minutes Sunday.
Once the game was over, there was plenty for the quarterback to talk about with the media.
That included communism in Cuba.
Kaepernick drew loud boos from Dolphins fans early in the game for his political views, including recent comments in defense of the former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Following the 49ers’ 31-24 loss, Kaepernick spoke at length about Castro’s policies.
“I agree with the investment in education,” Kaepernick said. “I also agree with the investment in free universal health care, as well as the involvement with him in helping end apartheid in South Africa. I would hope that everyone believes those things are good things. Trying to push the false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things that he did is just not true.”
In August, Kaepernick drew attention for wearing a T-shirt that featured Castro along with Malcolm X. In a conference call Wednesday with South Florida media, Kaepernick defended Castro, who was enormously unpopular in Miami.
The timing of Kaepernick’s visit to Florida, coinciding with Castro’s death, became the latest chapter in a surreal season for the 49ers quarterback. He has drawn strong, mixed reactions for kneeling during the national anthem to protest the treatment of minorities.
He also has gone 0-6 as a starter, but the latest game might have been his best yet.
The 49ers trailed 31-14 with eight minutes left but scored twice, forced a punt and started at their 38 with 1:44 to go. Kaepernick drove them to the 6 but scrambled on the final play and was stopped at the 2 when sandwiched by Kiko Alonso and Ndamukong Suh.
“I could tell he was going to try to tuck it in and run, and everyone did a good job of running to the ball and stopping him,” Alonso said.
Alonso, ironically, is a Cuban American. He said he knew nothing about Kaepernick’s comments regarding Castro, but was pleased to learn from relatives about the former dictator’s death and the resulting celebrations in Miami.
“I heard there were some big parties on Calle Ocho,” Alonso said. “I know that my father was happy.”
There was no celebrating — again — for the 49ers (1-10), who set a franchise record with their 10th consecutive loss. Kaepernick said he misfired on some passes but was pleased his team didn’t quit.
“Our guys did a great job fighting to the end,” he said. “At the beginning of the game I asked them to go four quarters with me, and they did.”
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