Skip to main content

Niners HC Shanahan, GM Lynch voice support for emergency quarterback rule change

An expert is not required to explain why the 49ers couldn't mount much of a fight in the latter stages of the NFC Championship Game.

In short, San Francisco didn't have a quarterback healthy enough to perform more than 50% of the duties required of a signal-caller in any NFL game, let alone one deciding a conference title. Brock Purdy's torn UCL prevented him from throwing the ball more than a few yards ahead of him, and Josh Johnson's concussion meant he was done for the day after exiting early in the third quarter. Purdy's re-entry into the game left the 49ers with one viable approach: Run the ball from every direction possible, because the air attack isn't coming.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan would like to see the NFL respond by allowing teams to prepare for an emergency like the one his 49ers encountered last Sunday, perhaps by permitting an emergency third quarterback to dress on game day, but not count against the 46-man limit.

"Definitely would be in favor of it," Shanahan said Wednesday. "We were scared to death when that rule ended, whatever many years ago that was. You kind of forget about it since you don't see anyone have to go through it, but then you get reminded of how quickly a football game is over once that happens. So I think that would be a very smart thing to have."

In theory, a team would still dress a starter and a backup. Instead of leaving the third-stringer in street clothes, he'd also be suited up, but couldn't play unless both of the quarterbacks in front of him were unable to participate due to injury. Such a rule certainly would have helped the 49ers last weekend, and it's far from the lone instance in recent years in which folks have scrambled to learn who is the emergency quarterback. The same can be said of kickers, who would also benefit from such a rule change pertaining to their position.

On Sunday, that emergency quarterback was running back Christian McCaffrey, who attempted one pass in the final two quarters.

There's also a developmental aspect to a potential change, because it could create space for teams to carry an additional quarterback on the roster and/or practice squad. At least, that's how 49ers general manager John Lynch sold it Wednesday.

"I think it would be good for football," Lynch said. "You're always trying to develop these guys, but you're always weighing that, carrying three as opposed to their roster value of being able to host a full complement of position players at different positions. I think if the league just kind of gave you an out there, everybody would be forced to do it, you'd have more people in camps improving, I think it'd be good for football."

It certainly would have been good for football last weekend.

Related Content