SANTA CLARA — 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy takes the field Sunday in his first week in the NFL.
He would also hold the title of being the 49ers’ captain after just eight starts at the end of his rookie season.
“He’s our leader,” 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk said of Purdy. “He’s our leader. He’s the quarterback on this team.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan announced on Wednesday that Purdy, 23, is the youngest of the six players selected as team captains.
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel is a captain for the first time. Tight end George Kittle, left tackle Trent Williams, defensive lineman Arik Armstead and linebacker Fred Warner were once again named to their leadership roles.
Purdy won the locker room last season after rising from third on the depth chart to lead the 49ers deep into the postseason.
The only question entering this season was whether Purdy was healthy enough to open the season as a starter. After major elbow surgery, he was cleared on the first day of training camp.
Shanahan said Purdy proved himself worthy of a leadership role last season.
“Men can think you’re a leader,” he said. “You can act like a leader. But guys don’t follow a lot of guys who don’t produce on the field, and I think that’s why he got a lot of votes this year because they believed in him and felt like he was one of the leaders last year.
The only game the 49ers lost last season with Purdy at quarterback was the NFC Championship Game when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in the first quarter.
Shanahan said it is not necessary to select the team’s starting quarterback as captain. Trey Lance, who started Week 1 a year ago, was not voted captain.
However, Purdy has received plenty of support inside the locker room as the 49ers prepare for their Week 1 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I think just the way he’s been conducting himself since he’s been here, being a true professional, pushing everyone forward, giving confidence offensively, giving confidence to the defense, giving everyone around the building confidence,” Aiyuk said.
Samuel’s rise as leader was also a notable development. He was not voted one of the team’s captains last season after his 2021 All-Pro season.
“I think not being a captain hurt him a little bit,” Aiyuk said. “I’m excited for him to come back this year and be a leader.”
Samuel admitted he had a poor season last year, but returned to training camp in better physical condition and with a greater sense of urgency.
“For him to be one of those guys, especially how last year ended for him, it shows how dedicated he is,” Shanahan said.
Defensive end Nick Boza was the team’s captain last season. On Wednesday, he ended his 44-day contract.
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