Colin Kaepernick went from sitting alone unnoticed during The Star-Spangled Banner to being noticed, to taking a knee with teammate Eric Reid during the national anthem with all eyes on him, to pledging $1 million to communities in need. His protest of racial inequality of the U.S. is now more than just symbolic, it's backed by his own money.

After the 49ers' preseason finale against the Chargers on Thursday night, Kaepernick announced he plans to donate the first $1 million he earns this year to charities that help communities in need to further support the causes he believes in.

"I've been very blessed to be in this position and to be able to make the kind of money I do," Kaepernick said. "And I have to help these people. I have to help these communities. It's not right that they're not put in a position to succeed or given those opportunities to succeed."

Kaepernick also explained why he decided to kneel during the national anthem instead of sitting down.

"As far as taking a knee tonight, Eric [Reid] -- as well as myself -- had a long conversation with Nate Boyer, who is a military vet," Kaepernick said. "And we were talking to him about, 'How can we get the message back on track? And not take away from the military. ... But keep the focus on what the issues really are.'

"As we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee, because there are issues that still need to be addressed. And it was also a way to try to show more respect to the men and women that fight for this country."

Kaepernick (No. 7) takes a knee during the national anthem. USATSI

Before the game, Boyer posted a photo to Twitter, thanking Kaepernick for a "good talk." Boyer, who previously wrote an open letter to Kaepernick, joined the 49ers on the sideline during The Star-Spangled Banner.

During the game, Kaepernick overcame loud boos from the crowd on the Chargers' "Salute to The Military" night. He ended up piecing together a solid performance in one half of action.

From the start, Kaepernick has maintained he'll continue his protest until he sees meaningful change. And on Thursday, he continued by committing $1 million and getting his message back on track.