It has been a long time since something like what happened to the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game has taken place.
The 49ers lost rookie quarterback Brock Purdy to an elbow injury on the first drive of the game. Journeyman – and if you look up his career, he is the absolute definition of a journeyman – Josh Johnson came on to fill in for San Francisco.
That is, until Johnson was knocked from the game with concussion symptoms, forcing the Niners to put an injured Purdy, who was unable to throw the football, back into the game.
Losing Purdy certainly put the 49ers at an early disadvantage. But when they lost Johnson as well, it was pretty much game over for a team that had already survived losing two quarterbacks earlier in the season before Purdy ever took the reins.
Essentially the 49ers had no quarterback to play for the remainder of the game and lost 31-7 to the Eagles, who will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Before the NFL began allowing extra players to dress for games and now have 48 active players, including practice squad promotions, the league used to have a third quarterback rule. That rule was put in place to keep just such a situation as what happened to the 49ers from happening to a team.
Granted, a quarterback who would have been fifth on the 49ers initial 2022 depth chart probably wouldn’t have been a great option either. But at least it would have been a quarterback, and Niners coach Kyle Shanahan would likely have attempted a few more passes rather than having running back Christian McCaffrey lob a pass downfield.
In a best-case scenario, perhaps an extra QB could have delivered somewhat similarly to what Josh Dobbs was able to do for the Titans late in the year and keep them competitive with a fighting chance.
We have seen unusual situations in the playoffs change NFL thinking before. Just last year, the Buffalo Bills not getting a possession in overtime against Kansas City, caused that rule to be changed for the postseason this year.
The NFL Competition Committee needs to revisit the extra quarterback rule because what happened to the 49ers Sunday not only rendered them completely noncompetitive, it also served to cheapen the Eagles’ victory a bit, through no fault of their own.