The most important person in any election is the one who counts the votes.
That’s particularly true of sports teams that vote for captains. The players cast the nerds. The coach counts the votes. The coach can, if he wants, engineer whatever outcome he wants.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan essentially admitted that on Wednesday, when discussing the process that resulted in quarterback Trey Lance not getting a C on his jersey.
“I always get the final tally and I could cheat if I wanted to,” Shanahan told reporters. “I actually didn’t at all. I agreed with all their choices and I just made the decision not to have eight of them.”
He went with six: defensive lineman Arik Armstead, defensive end Nick Bosa, tight end George Kittle, safety Jimmie Ward, linebacker Fred Warner, and tackle Trent Williams. The seventh would have been quarterback Trey lance, and the eighth would have been receiver Deebo Samuel. The vote-counter-in-chief decided to cut the roster of captains to six.
Shanahan could have gone with seven. He thing not to. It’s not unreasonable to wonder whether he limited the list to six because he doesn’t want to complicate things if/when he chooses that Lance isn’t getting it done, and that Jimmy Garoppolo should be back on the field.
Shanahan could have used the captain designation as a way to get others to acknowledge that Lance is truly safe. Shanahan opted not to do that. It only bolsters the idea that he wants to make it easier to switch to Garoppolo, if Shanahan so chooses.
Regardless, here’s the point. Even though the players vote, the coach can do whatever he wants when it comes to picking the captains, from engaging in creative accounting to placing arbitrary limits on the number of Cs to be dispensed.