San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed to reporters on Wednesday that new starting quarterback and 2021 rookie Trey Lance was not among the team’s six captains for the upcoming season. Lance finished seventh in voting, one spot ahead of dual-threat offensive weapon and All-Pro selection Deebo Samuel.
“I just didn’t want to put seven on there,” Shanahan explained less than two full weeks after veteran signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo surprisingly accepted a pay cut to remain with the franchise as Lance’s primary backup. “Deebo was eight, that’s why I mentioned his name on accident. We just wanted to go with six. They don’t allow eight to the coin toss, I don’t believe.
“It’s also his first year of starting for us. There’s not many rookies who end up being the captains. I know this is his second year, but he’s a rookie for us in terms of this is his first time being our starting quarterback.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio isn’t buying what Shanahan was selling and wrote on Thursday that Wednesday’s development proves Lance is “on thin ice” as he prepares to guide the team that lost this past January’s NFC Championship Game into Sunday’s regular-season opener at the Chicago Bears.
“He needs to perform. He needs to run the offense the way that Shanahan wants it to be run. If he doesn’t, Shanahan won’t hesitate to bench him,” Florio added about Lance. “And the absence of a ‘C’ on his jersey will make a move from Lance to Garoppolo far less awkward than it otherwise would be.”
Florio also noted that the 49ers had seven captains for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Back in July, Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd said that keeping Garoppolo and Lance together on the San Francisco roster wouldn’t work, in part because Jimmy G has already shown teammates he can help them complete a journey to a Super Bowl.
“I think Jimmy G is one of those guys, where his mere presence, you can’t own a locker room if Jimmy G is in it in the cubical next to you,” Cowherd remarked at that time. “He’s too popular. He’s too well-liked. Some guys are too talented to be a backup … Jimmy G, if he’s in the room, half the locker room’s going to like him even if he doesn’t start. He’s just the ultimate good dude.”
As for Lance, he’s attempted just 71 regular-season passes during his brief pro career and tallied 41 completions for 603 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.