49ers captains: Brock Purdy, Deebo Samuel join six-man crew

The 49ers’ six captains this season are Arik Armstead, George Kittle, Fred Warner, Trent Williams and first-timers Brock Purdy and Deebo Samuel

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Brock Purdy is more than just the 49ers’ starting quarterback. He is a first-time captain, a distinction that Trey Lance lacked a year ago.

Purdy demonstrated his leadership ability – and availability – on the field.

“I mean, it’s hard to be seen as a leader when you haven’t been out there before,” said coach Kyle Shanahan. “Guys can think you’re a leader, and you can act like one, but guys don’t follow many people who don’t produce on the field.”

Purdy won eight straight games before suffering an elbow injury in last season’s NFC Championship Game.

“That’s why (Purdy) got so many votes this year,” Shanahan explained, “because I think they believed in him and felt he was one of the leaders last year.” “Not because he’s some veteran who talks to guys a certain way. It’s just because of how well he prepares and how well he handles a variety of situations when he gets in there.”

Defensive tackle Arik Armstead, tight end George Kittle, linebacker Fred Warner, left tackle Trent Williams, and wide receiver Deebo Samuel were elected as captains by their teammates.

Samuel almost became captain last season, but Shanahan chose to keep only six captains; Samuel and Lance received the most votes.

“It’s for sure important to him,” Brandon Aiyuk said of Samuel. “We talked about it last year, and I think it hurt him a little bit not being a captain, so I’m excited for him this year to be a captain.”

Samuel, a fifth-year veteran, was grateful for the appointment, though he declined to comment to reporters; he spoke to the media on Monday.

“I was happy for Deebo,” said Shanahan. “He was disappointed not to be named captain last year.” I know he was, and for him to be one of those guys now, especially considering how last year ended for him, I think it shows how dedicated he’s been.

“You guys have seen it out on the field, and you guys have written about it, and the players feel it strongly as well,” Shanahan added of Samuel.

Kittle has served as captain six times. This is Armstead’s, Warner’s, and Williams’ fourth year as 49ers captains; Williams noted that he first became a captain in his second year in Washington, in 2011.

Williams said of Purdy’s appointment, “He is a natural-born leader.” Guys notice that, and they notice it enough to elect him captain. That is a tremendous honor. He wasn’t a Day 1 starter and they handed him the keys to the car.”

Shanahan does not give out captains patches to just anyone. He asks players to rank their top four nominees, then finds out which eight received the most votes and narrows it down from there.

“There are a lot more than six guys on our team who could do it,” Shanahan explained, “so it’s kind of a thing I try not to make a big deal about because you’re going to offend someone on your team.”

Defensive end Nick Bosa, running back Christian McCaffrey, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, cornerback Charvarius Ward, and safeties Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson Sr. were the most notable absences from the captain’s crew.

Bosa was named captain for the first time last year. Bosa had been absent from the team since June’s mandatory minicamp, until Wednesday’s agreement on a historic contract extension. His leadership is noticed whether or not he wears the “C” patch on his jersey.

“As laid back and monotonous as he appears, he’s an important part of this locker room,” Williams said. “A lot of people are really into him. We can learn a lot from him in terms of treating your body well, eating well, and sleeping well.”

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