49ers would support return of third-quarterback rule

49ers would support return of third-quarterback rule

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When you have two quarterbacks, you have none. When you have two active quarterbacks on game day and they both get injured, you REALLY don’t have any.

The 49ers learned that the hard way Sunday in the NFC Championship. Brock Purdy injured his elbow. Then, after quarterback Josh Johnson suffered a concussion, the 49ers had to rely on Purdy to take the snaps, even though he couldn’t throw the ball more than five yards.

At the season-ending press conference in Santa Clara, the issue of the now-defunct third quarterback rule was raised. Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch were asked if they would support such a move.

“Yeah, I would definitely be in favor,” Shanahan said. “We were scared to death when that rule ended, many years ago, but you kind of forget it because you just don’t see anyone having to cross it, but then you’re reminded how fast a game of football is over once that happens, so I think that would be a really smart thing to have.

But the rule ended in 2011 because, instead of allowing a 46th player to be an emergency quarterback, the league allowed all teams to have 46 players in uniform. Teams could choose, if they wanted, to have the 46th man in uniform be a quarterback. Many chose not to make the quarterback the 46th man on game day.

So basically a return of the rule would result in a 47th man — a third quarterback — in uniform.

“I think it would be good for football,” said general manager John Lynch. “You’re always trying to develop these guys, but you’re always weighing carrying three versus the roster value of being able to accommodate a full complement of position players in different positions, so I think if the league just kind of gave you one there, everyone would be forced to do that. You have more people in the camps getting better, I think that would be good for the football.

It would certainly be good for football not to have a conference championship game where both quarterbacks of a team get injured and the team has to use either an injured quarterback who can’t throw or a non-quarterback. And, yes, that’s more than reason enough to allow teams to have a third quarterback ready to go, just in case.

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