Eli Harold was standing again, and now he can leave for Detroit.
The outside linebacker, one of the three original San Francisco players to protest during the national anthem, was dealt to the Lions for a conditional seventh-round pick Thursday.
He was the last of the three to remain with the team. Colin Kaepernick, who spearheaded the movement, opted out of his contract before the 2017 season and hasn’t found work since. Safety Eric Reid became a free agent this offseason and still has not been picked up by anyone.
Harold had protested police brutality and discrimination in the U.S. for the past two seasons, but changed his stance this year and has stood during “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the first two exhibition games.
“I understand everyone wants to ask the questions,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I just don’t want to get into it right now. I’m trying to focus on ball. Me and my wife had a discussion and we feel it’s best right now that I just don’t answer those questions and try to stick with ball.”
Now he’ll be playing in Detroit, who could use depth at strongside linebacker behind former Giant Devon Kennard, who started camp on the non-football injury list. In San Francisco, Dekoda Watson, who has 4.0 career sacks in eight years primarily played on special teams, has been working with the second team behind Harold.
The 49ers wished him well.
“Our entire organization would like to thank Eli for his hard work and contributions to our team and the Bay Area community over the last three years,” general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “He always represented the 49ers with class and has been a tremendous teammate. We wish Eli and his wife, Kelsey, nothing but the best in the years to come.”
Harold, 24, has played in all 48 games in his career and started 24 over the last two seasons, tallying 71 tackles and 5.0 sacks. A third-round pick in 2015, he was pegged as a pass rusher coming out of Virginia, but he has just 5.0 sacks and 14 quarterback hits in his career.