Kaepernick and Hyde were teammates with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, when the quarterback began protesting racial injustice and police brutality against black people by not standing during the national anthem.
"I think the NFL can start by signing Kap back," Hyde said in his first comments to reporters since signing a one-year, $2.75 million deal with Seattle last month. "I think if they sign Kap back, that'll show that they're really trying to move in a different direction. Because Kap was making a statement four years ago about what's going on in today's world and the NFL didn't bother to listen to him then, so I think they should start by doing that. After that, I'm not really sure what the NFL can do."
Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a video statement last week that the NFL condemns "racism and the systematic oppression of black people" while also admitting that the league was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier" on such matters.
Goodell's words reiterated the stances that more than a dozen NFL players urged the league to take in a video of their own.
"Things definitely need to change, so I agree 100% what they were saying," Hyde said of the players' video.
Hyde and Kaepernick, 32, were teammates from 2014 to 2016. He said he supported Kaepernick's "peaceful protest" in 2016, but at the time was more worried about football. The 49ers went 2-14 that season.
"I was all for it," Hyde said. "I understand the message he was putting out. I understood because I came from Cincinnati, Ohio. Lincoln Heights in Cincinnati, it's not the best area, and I would see that -- police brutality, pretty much everybody in the neighborhood is struggling, you see violence, drugs, all that. There's just no opportunity there."
Hyde moved to Naples, Florida, to live with his grandmother when he was 14.
"So I was able to get away from all that and pretty much start my life over," he said. "But everybody is not fortunate; they don't have grandparents that live in other places. So with that, I was all for what Kap was saying, his message. I was for it, still for it. But I just remember that we wasn't a good team, and I wasn't happy about that part because I wanted to win and I was tired of losing. So I was more worried about how we could win. I wasn't really paying too much attention to what Kap had going on."
Hyde said he hasn't taken part in on-field protests and doesn't plan on doing so going forward, "but if it's something that the team wants to do and our team decides that as a team we are going to protest together, then I'm with the team at all times."
He expressed skepticism about how much change the NFL can effect.
"The racism in this world is deep-rooted ..." he said. "I don't think the NFL is going to change anything, but personally I really don't know. I just know they can sign Kap."