Opinion is sharply divided along racial lines around the country about the propriety of the national-anthem protests by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other athletes, according to the results of a poll by Quinnipiac University released Tuesday.

The telephone survey found that 54 percent of American adults disapprove of the protests, in which Kaepernick and others have refused to stand or locked arms during the national anthem before games to bring attention to injustices against African Americans, while 38 percent approve.

But 74 percent of African-American adults approve of the athletes’ anthem protests, according to the poll, compared to only 30 percent of white respondents. The disapproval rate was 17 percent for African Americans and 63 percent for white adults.

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“There is a profound racial divide over athletes who refuse to stand for the National Anthem and deep differences over whether the police can be trusted,” Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a written statement issued by the school announcing the survey’s results.

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The poll’s results come as Kaepernick prepares to step back into the spotlight for what he does on the football field. The 49ers have named him their starter at quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, replacing Blaine Gabbert with the team’s record at 1-4.

Kaepernick’s career has generally been in decline since he helped the team to reach the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 2012 season and then go back to the NFC title game in the 2013 season.

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He has been a controversial figure this season even while not playing. Other NFL players, along with athletes at other levels of football and in other sports, have called Kaepernick’s stand courageous and have joined his protest movement. Critics have portrayed the protests as unpatriotic and disrespectful to military members and police.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he supports the players’ right to make their views known in attempting to affect national attitudes and events.

“We encourage our players to be active in their communities and to speak out when they see things that should be changed,” Goodell said in an interview at FedEx Field during the opening weekend of the NFL season last month. “And they’re reactive in doing that. They have that voice.

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“Some of those with the Seahawks, a number of those players spoke very eloquently about that and very powerfully about how they want to be part of making changes in their communities. That’s a good thing. It’s a positive thing. Yes, we want them to respect the flag. We want them to respect the military personnel. And I think that they do. But they’re all working to try to see how they can have a positive impact in their communities.”

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Quinnipiac said it surveyed 1,391 adults nationwide by phone Oct. 7-9. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percent, according to the school.

Kaepernick’s start for the 49ers at Buffalo will provide a first glimpse as to whether he can succeed operating in the fast-paced offense of the team’s first-year coach, Chip Kelly. The 49ers discussed possible trades of Kaepernick with other teams following his injury-plagued 2015 season. But no deal was completed, and the 49ers kept him on the roster while waiting for him to recovery fully and get himself back to his usual playing weight.

The team and Kaepernick’s representatives have been discussing a reworked contract that would lessen the franchise’s financial commitment to Kaepernick beyond this season if he gets hurt. It also appears possible that the restructured deal, if completed, would have a mechanism to make Kaepernick a free agent after this season.

Scott Clement contributed to this report.

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