SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been elected by teammates as one of the 49ers' captains this season.

"It's a great honor," Kaepernick said Thursday, adding that he was surprised "a little bit" by his first-time selection.

Linebacker Patrick Willis was re-elected to his captaincy, which comes with a two-year term under coach Jim Harbaugh's guidelines. Defensive tackle Justin Smith is entering the second year of his two-year term as captain.

Frank Gore had no qualms about not being re-elected after serving as a captain the past two seasons, noting he was among those who voted for Kaepernick as the offensive captain.

"That's a good pick," Gore said. "The quarterback should be the leader of the offense."

It's believed that the 49ers' special-teams captaincy will change on a weekly basis, starting this week with C.J. Spillman.

Alex Smith joined Gore, Willis and Smith as last season's captains, a role Smith continued to fulfill even after getting benched in favor of Kaepernick in the second half of the season. That quartet, along with Spillman, served as the 49ers' Super Bowl captains.

For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.