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49ers would support return of third-quarterback rule

When you have two quarterbacks, you have none. When you have two active quarterbacks on game day and they both get injured, you REALLY have none.

The 49ers learned that the hard way on Sunday in the NFC Championship. Brock Purdy suffered an elbow injury. Then, after quarterback Josh Johnson suffered a concussion, the 49ers had to rely on Purdy to take the snaps, even though he couldn’t throw the ball more than five yards.

During the season-ending press conference in Santa Clara, the question of the now-defunct third-quarterback rule came up. Coach Kyle Shanahan and G.M. John Lynch were asked whether they’d support such a move.

“Yeah, I definitely would be in favor of it,” Shanahan said. “We were scared to death when that rule ended, whatever many years ago that was, but you kind of forget about it since you just 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.”

But the rule ended in 2011 because, in lieu of allowing a 46th player to be an emergency quarterback, the league allowed all teams to have 46 players in uniform. Teams could choose, if they wanted, to have the 46th man in uniform be a quarterback. Many opted to not make a quarterback the 46th man on game day.

So, basically, a return of the rule would result in a 47th man -- a third quarterback -- being in uniform.

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

It would definitely be good for football to not have a conference championship game that has both quarterbacks on one team getting injured, and the team having to use either an injured quarterback who couldn’t throw or a non-quarterback. And, yes, that’s more than enough of a reason to allow teams to have a third quarterback ready to go, just in case.