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Anthem-protesting Kaepernick connects on quarterback start

Oct 16, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick, who has caused controversy by kneeling during the U.S. national anthem, threw his first touchdown pass in 364 days on his return as starting quarterback against the Buffallo Bills on Sunday.

Kaepernick has polarized opinion amongst National Football League fans after declining since pre-season to stand during the national anthem in a silent protest against what he says is social injustice and police brutality.

After five weeks on the bench, he was called up to start for the struggling 49ers against the Bills in Buffalo.

Kaepernick again knelt during the anthem, as did two team mates, while several other San Francisco players raised their right fists in another form of protest.

Early in the second quarter, Kaepernick found Torrey Smith open, connecting with a pass for a 53-yard catch and run touchdown.

Local media reported anti-Kaepernick T-shirts and other items were being sold outside the Buffalo stadium.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Ken Ferris)