Ex-players rip NFL over protocol for team carrying third QB


The 49ers found themselves in a nightmare situation during the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy suffered an elbow injury on the 49ers’ first possession of the game. Then, backup signal-caller Josh Johnson left the contest after taking a big hit on the 49ers’ first drive after halftime. 

After the injuries to Purdy and Johnson, San Francisco nearly turned to its emergency quarterback, either fullback Kyle Juszczyk or running back Christian McCaffrey. A compromised Purdy was thrust back into action under center, which then led to criticism regarding the NFL's decision to get rid of the third quarterback designation. 

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn took a shot at the NFLPA for its decision. 

Kurt Benkert, who spent time on the 49ers’ practice squad in 2022, also believes that teams should be allowed to carry a third quarterback without counting against the game-day roster limit. 

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer explained the previous three-quarterback designation and what led to its removal. 

“It’s worth mentioning that the NFL used to have a fail-safe for this sort of circumstance—the third quarterback designation,” Breer wrote on his MMQB. “The rule allowed for teams to dress a third quarterback without it counting against the 45-man game-day roster limit (with rules limiting the first two quarterbacks from reentering the game once the third quarterback went in). 

“The league abolished the exemption in 2011 when it expanded game-day rosters to 46, and most teams fell back on dressing just two quarterbacks for games.”

RELATED: Reports: Purdy suffered torn UCL, will be sidelined six months

For most of the second half, the 49ers had to rely on their running game as Purdy revealed after the 31-7 loss to the Eagles that he couldn’t throw the football more than five or ten yards.

The NFL usually is quick to change any rules or protocol after a particular incident occurs, so what happened to the 49ers on Sunday might lead to a change that ensures no other team finds themselves in a similar situation. 

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