Mike Singletary announced his six team captains for the season, and there are some surprises both as far as who's on the list and who's not. The captains are Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Takeo Spikes, Eric Heitmann, Vernon Davis and Michael Robinson. I know what you're thinking - one of these names sticks out like Jessica Alba at a Star Trek convention. And after announcing the list, Singletary immediately spoke -- without prompting -- about the guy you're thinking of. "I'm really excited about Vernon," he said. "I think he exemplifies a lot of the qualities needed to be a leader."
Hard work was chief among those qualities. Singletary pointed to an instance during the team's first veteran minicamp this spring. The coach had worked his players pretty ragged during a particular drill and was about to let them off the hook when Davis stepped forward. "Vernon said, no, we started it, we're going to finish it," Singletary said, "and he set the tempo, for me, for that first minicamp."
The pick is curious, of course, given that Singletary's most dramatic act (at least publicly) after taking over the team was ejecting Davis from a game against the Seahawks. Davis also has a history of fighting in practice. In fact, a few months after the minicamp that Singletary cited, Davis got into a brief training-camp scrap, thereby forcing the entire team to run gassers.
Also interesting were the omissions. Frank Gore, the epicenter of the offense, is not on the list, nor is cornerback Nate Clements. Shaun Hill, who as quarterback is ostensibly the face of the team, also is not a captain. Singletary picked the captains himself. They were not voted on by the team.
Asked if being named a captain would affect how he operates on the field, Davis said, "No. I'm going to continue to do what I've been doing. Play hard."
In previous years, the 49ers would prepare for road games by blasting crowd noise through speakers set up on the side of the field. This year they're getting the silent treatment - ear plugs molded to every player's individual ear canal.
Singletary called the speakers "annoying" and said that players could still hear each other during practice. With the ear plugs, the players hear nothing, and they must communicate via hand signals. If you can bear the unpleasant memory, you'll recall that crowd noise was a big factor in the 49ers' botched call on the final play of last year's game in Arizona.
Singletary said his two starting receivers are Isaac Bruce and Josh Morgan are the starting receivers. After that? Singletary said Arnaz Battle and Micheal Spurlock both could play the slot position Sunday.
-- Matt Barrows