The most important person in any election is the one who counts the votes.
This is especially true for sports teams that vote for captains. The players cast their votes. The coach counts the votes. The coach can, if he wants, determine the outcome he wants.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan essentially admitted that on Wednesday, when he discussed the process that led to quarterback Trey Lance not getting a C on his jersey.
“I always get the final result and I can cheat if I want to,” Shanahan told reporters. “Actually, I didn’t do that at all. I agreed with all their choices and I just made the decision not to have eight.”
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 Lans, and the eighth would have been receiver Deebo Samuel. The Commander-in-Chief of the Votes decided to reduce the number of captains to six.
Shanahan could have gone with seven. He chose not to. It’s not unreasonable to wonder if he narrowed the list down to six, as he doesn’t want to complicate things if/when he chooses that Lance can’t pull it off and Jimmy Garoppolo has to be back on the field.
Shanahan could have used the captaincy designation to help others recognize that Lance is truly safe. Shanahan has chosen not to. It only reinforces the idea that he wants to make it easier to switch to Garoppolo, if Shanahan wants it.
Anyway, here’s the point. Even though the players vote, the coach can do whatever he wants when it comes to choosing the captains, from creative accounting to placing arbitrary limits on the number of C’s to be dealt.