One of the best parts about Week 1 of the NFL season is that each team around the league votes on its captains now that rosters are locked at 53 players.
The San Francisco 49ers were no different, as Jim Tomsula revealed the team's captains for the 2015 season during his Tuesday press conference. Here's the list per the head coach:
QB, Colin Kaepernick
LT, Joe Staley
TE, Vernon Davis
WR, Anquan Boldin
LB, NaVorro Bowman
S, Antoine Bethea
S, Eric Reid
DL, Ian Williams
Special teams captain:
K, Phil Dawson
That adds up to nine captains in all, which is more than the four the team had in 2014. That was by design. The voting was done entirely by the players, who weren't given any limit of how many teammates they could select.
"Well, you know, I didn't ask anybody," Tomsula said. "I completely stayed out of this for a reason: because I wanted them to do it. … This was solely the guys. So yeah, I think that's a compliment. You talk to all these guys here. You see some veteran players here that work hard that you see daily and you look at it and you say, 'OK, that's cool.'"
The head coach joked that he kept the ballots just in case a recount was needed. The number of captains ultimately chosen is a testament to the variety of strong veterans in the locker room.
"We have a lot of great leaders on this team," said Torrey Smith, who is getting set for his first regular season game with the 49ers. "I've been able to see that coming in - natural leaders. It isn't forced. It's pretty cool that the coaches allowed us to keep more. It's not like it puts pressure on anyone but it shows that we had a lot of quality guys."
Some veterans were names expected to be on the list, such as Kaepernick and Bowman. But it was names like Williams that made Tomsula pleased with how the players' vote turned out.
"He's a guy that never leaves," the coach said. "He lives around the corner. He's always working, always going. Had to overcome some things. So, I mean, I don't want to speak for the guys on the team, but I have my own little thoughts on why they picked that group."
Williams is a lead-by-example type of player, who earned the respect of the locker room despite finishing the last two seasons on injured reserve. Now at 100 percent again, Williams has won the starting nose tackle job for the third consecutive season.
The honor validates Williams' hard work and perseverance through injuries.
"I just try to keep my head down and stay working," Williams said. "I'm trying to learn everything I can from guys who are older than me."
Tomsula noted that the nine players who carry the captain moniker will not wear the "C" on their game jerseys. Williams had no problem with that decision.
"I think that's Jimmy T.'s way of trying to show that this is a team," said the nose tackle. "He doesn't want to single out any one player. We're the 49ers. We're not one player or two players."