The San Francisco 49ers opened up their week of practice with some positive news. The team's lengthy list of injured players appear to be on the mend and captains were announced ahead of Sunday's season opener versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here are the updates from head coach Kyle Shanahan:
Shanahan revealed the names of the six captains for the 2023 season.
Team captains are voted on by their teammates, and this year's group includes Arik Armstead, Fred Warner, Trent Williams, Deebo Samuel, Brock Purdy and George Kittle. Samuel and Purdy are first-time captains, while Williams and Kittle will be wearing a gold "C" to recognize five or more years served as a team captain. Williams, who has spent time with two organizations in his 14-year NFL career has been a captain for 11-total seasons. Meanwhile, Kittle, a career-long 49ers player, has been voted as a captain for six of his seven seasons in the league.
Shanahan spoke to the leadership abilities of both of his new team captains, beginning with Purdy.
"When you go out and play like he did last year, that's what it is," Shanahan said. "It's hard to be seen as a leader when you haven't been out there before. Guys can think you're a leader, you can act like a leader, but guys don't follow many people who don't produce on the field.
"I think that's why he got so many votes this year. They believed in him and thought he was one of the leaders last year, not because he's being some vet and talking to guys some way. It's because of how he prepares, they can count on him and how he handled a number of situations he got in there."
Samuel was in the mix to be a captain in 2022 and after a productive offseason, earned the nod from his teammates.
"I think it says a ton about (Deebo Samuel). I was happy Deebo got that," Shanahan said. "I think he was disappointed he didn't get it last year. I know he was. For him to be one of those guys, especially how last year ended a little bit for him, it shows how dedicated he's been. You guys have seen it out on the field and you guys have written about it. The players feel strongly about it also."
Wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud III was medically cleared to practice.
After breaking his wrist at the start of preseason, McCloud III was initially projected to be out for eight weeks, however, he has made good progress since early August. Shanahan had him down as a limited participant in Wednesday's workout along with linebacker Oren Burks (PCL sprain), safety Tashaun Gipson Sr., safety Talanoa Hufanga (Baker's cyst), tight end George Kittle, running back Jordan Mason and kicker Jake Moody (quad strain).
Shanahan's early scouting report described a team not different from the 49ers.
Pittsburgh's offense will be led by second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett and headlined by several veteran defensive starters, all of whom were part of these two team's 2019 meeting. Four years later, San Francisco is preparing for another physical battle at Acrisure Stadium.
"They play as hard as anyone," Shanahan said. "Their D-line, their linebackers, their secondary - they all get after it. They're an extremely physical group. We haven't played them for a number of years, but just watching Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, those guys are as talented as it gets... It's very obvious why they won seven of their last nine games (in 2022), just watch the defensive side of the ball.
"Getting to their offense - seeing some of the players they have and way that their quarterback has been playing and the way he played last year at the end of the year, it's been really impressive."