When the 49ers named their captains yesterday, Trey Lance was not among them. I don’t do this often, but I’m going to disagree with Kyle Posey. There is one reason this decision isn’t meaningless, and it goes back to a continuous pattern by the 49ers of not fully embracing Trey Lance when they have the chance.
As many of you say that I love to write clickbait articles, I’m going to retort with the fact that a large group of 49ers fans love to call anything negative about the team a “non-story.” When Deebo Samuel scrubbed his Instagram account, people said it didn’t matter at all. He requested a trade soon after that. When the team didn’t release Jimmy Garoppolo, people said it didn’t matter. He’s now back on the team for another year. Teams don’t do things for no reason. Every action is purposeful and, thus, worthy of scrutiny.
First, it’s a little weird not to have your starting quarterback be a captain on the team. They are the natural leader of the offense, so it only makes sense to include them. Twenty-five teams named captains yesterday; only three chose to omit quarterbacks. One of those three was the Seahawks, who very well could have to bench Geno Smith at some point this year. One was the Cleveland Browns, whose quarterback is currently suspended for serial sexual assault. The third team was the 49ers.
I’ve heard all the responses, and none of them hold water. As Kyle Posey said, the other captains are far more accomplished than Lance, without question. But I believe that misses the bigger point: Trey didn’t have to beat any of them. The 49ers could have chosen to name seven captains this year. They didn’t. Kyle Shanahan said, “We just wanted to go with six.”
He went with seven captains last year and the year before that. Why reduce that number this year, especially when Trey Lance was seventh in the voting? It’s not as if seven would be exorbitantly high. Multiple teams have eight captains this year. The Bills have nine. The Giants have 10.
All offseason players and coaches have gushed about Trey Lance’s leadership. He’s gone out of his way to take a larger role within the team and embrace teammates. He breaks the huddle at practices and before games. He clearly wanted to be a captain and said as much yesterday.
“Obviously that’s a goal of mine, but I don’t think you could look at any six of those guys and be like that guy’s a bozo because those guys have all played football at a very, very high level. So yeah, situations are different. I’m excited. I voted for every single one of those guys, so I think each and every one of them deserves it. But yeah, it’s definitely a goal of mine moving forward. But those guys have all proved it. That’s what this league is all about.”
If you want to say the title of captain is meaningless, that’s fine, but why not throw Lance a bone in that case? Name him a captain, avoid all the scrutiny and send a message inside the locker room that you’re behind him - especially with Jimmy Garoppolo still on the roster.
If the title of captain does have meaning, what have they not seen from him that they want to see? The 49ers are choosing violence, again and again, when it comes to Trey Lance. They could have shown faith in him by clearing the deck before free agency, getting Jimmy Garoppolo out of town, and adding more depth at offensive line and safety. They didn’t. They could have shown faith in him during training camp by getting Jimmy Garoppolo off the team then. They didn’t. Instead, they restructured Garoppolo’s deal and continued to feed the narrative that they aren’t all-in on Trey.
Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch know how this looks. “We all know how it’ll go,” Shanahan said yesterday, “The fact that he has this successful quarterback behind him, that’s obvious how that narrative will be and understandably so.”
The fact that they have continued to choose to walk the hard road with Trey over the easy road tells you something. They’re doing it because they think they have to. They’re willing to suffer the slings and arrows because, in their mind it’s better than the alternative. You don’t pack a parachute unless you think there’s a chance you might have to jump out of the plane, and that’s true no matter how much some fans want to hide under the covers and pretend the monster can’t see them.
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