The San Francisco 49ers' 2022 season came to an end in the NFC Championship Game, as they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 31-7. NFL fans didn't get the matchup they were anticipating, as quarterback Brock Purdy injured his elbow on the 49ers' first drive of the game, and then backup quarterback Josh Johnson suffered a concussion early in the third quarter.
Purdy reentered the game and replaced Johnson when the veteran journeyman went down, but he clearly had trouble throwing the football. The 49ers were held scoreless in the second half, while Purdy finished the game completing just 4 of 4 passes for 23 yards. Purdy and Johnson were the only two quarterbacks on the 49ers' active roster Sunday, and they definitely could have used a third. An old rule would have helped them out, and given San Francisco a better chance at a Super Bowl bid. We of course are talking about the third-quarterback rule.
This is painful to watch. If the @NFL hadnt gotten rid of the 3rd QB designation, we wouldn’t be having this problem. Apparently it wasn’t worth it to the @NFLPA— Brady Quinn (@Brady_Quinn) January 29, 2023
Per NFL.com, the third-quarterback rule was introduced in 1991, and gave teams an emergency signal-caller available who was not on the 45-man game-day roster. In 2011, owners and players agreed to expand game-day rosters from 45 to 46 players, and the third quarterback would not count toward the game-day roster. Basically if an NFL team wants to carry a third quarterback on Sundays, it would count toward game-day roster spots.
There's a bit more to the rule, as it stated that if a third quarterback was inserted before the fourth quarter of a game, the first two quarterbacks could not be used again. That clause likely would not have affected the 49ers on Sunday if the rule were still in effect, but it's likely they would have used a third quarterback if they had one dressed. This former rule may be something the league revisits.