Coach Kyle Shanahan would like to see the NFL respond by allowing teams to prepare for an emergency like the one his 49ers encountered Sunday, perhaps by permitting an emergency third quarterback to dress on gameday, 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.