The issues surrounding Kaepernick's stance have resurfaced this week as many players and teams in the league have been protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Chauvin has been fired from his job and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
When asked about Kaepernick, Shanahan spoke at length about how he believes the former 49ers quarterback's message was lost and how Shanahan gained a deeper appreciation for what Kaepernick did after he became the Niners' head coach in 2017.
And I think one thing that bothers me the most just throughout this and throughout my own life experiences and stuff, (is that) racism is a big deal in our country right now. "Whether you disagree with how he did it or not doesn't matter".
"People are hurting", Shanahan said. Too many people aren't understanding the message that everyone's been giving for a long time, and Colin did it the strongest out of anyone. "And people should respect him a ton for that and admire that".
And though he was not the head coach of the 49ers when Colin Kaepernick was in San Francisco, Shanahan believes his method of protest was misunderstood.
Shanahan arrived in San Francisco as coach the following year and wanted to go a different direction at quarterback. (NPR)No team has offered Kaepernick a contract since 2017, which many attribute to his protests.
Asked Thursday how he would handle player protests if they occur again this year, Shanahan reiterated his support for his players, noting it would come "probably with more passion".
"Those were the guys who started it and it was very clear when they would articulate it why they were doing it", Shanahan said.
"I got really bored and tried to build a zip line for my family", Shanahan said on a Zoom call with local reporters Thursday. "I hope the protests cause change". And I know our organization is, I know [CEO] Jed [York] is, I know our players are. "We always have been". We'd like to do something collectively as a team and that's something we're still discussing.
"There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag - NO KNEELING!"
The NFL had been criticized for a statement released last Saturday which failed to directly reference racism or police brutality.
Shanahan along with general manager John Lynch have met with roughly a dozen of veteran players to continue the conversation and determine collective steps of action 49ers players and coaches can take. Of 13 coach openings the past two seasons, only two have gone to minorities, with Miami hiring Brian Flores in 2019 and Washington hiring Ron Rivera this offseason after he was sacked in Carolina.
Kaepernick has remained unsigned since leaving the 49ers, but other players, including Reid, continued their protest after Shanahan took over. That's a fact. That's not debatable. "And I've been in some situations worse than others, but regardless, I don't know how they feel, but I can feel that they feel different than me".
"We are listening, I am listening and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united National Football League family".
"We have everything", Shanahan said. We have to break through whatever the awkwardness that's between races because that's not there with everybody, but it's there with way too many people.