The San Francisco 49ers current quarterback situation features Alex Smith as the expected starter and Colin Kaepernick as the developing backup. After those two, the team has a big question mark. They have Jeremiah Masoli and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. With Alex Smith sitting on the sidelines until Thursday, Kaepernick has taken the first team snaps, Masoli the second team snaps, and MBT the third team snaps.
When Masoli was signed as a running back, there was some discussion about utilizing him in a variety of ways, including quarterback, running back, and maybe even in the return game. For now he's focusing primarily on quarterback, so we'll see if that changes when Smith starts practicing again. I didn't see Masoli spend any time with special teams or running backs today.
I bring all this up because I started thinking today that there might be a way he is able to slide his way onto the 53-man roster. I included him as a question mark instead of unknown/longshot on my 53-man roster projection in part because I think there are ways he conceivably slides onto the roster. Part of that is due to an NFL rule change.
The NFL allows a 53-man roster and through this past season you had 45 active players and 8 inactive players. Of those eight inactive players, one could be a quarterback who operated as the emergency QB. The rule of the emergency QB said that if that third QB came into the game in place of the first or second string QB before the fourth quarter, neither of the first two QBs could re-enter the game. Entrance in the fourth quarter allowed for re-entry by the first two QBs.
The new rule developed shortly before the two sides settled their differences in July states that teams will now have 46 active players on game day. Accordingly, the emergency QB rule was removed. Now, if you have a third QB on the active roster he can come and go in the game with no repercussions.
This change in rules got me thinking about Masoli. Unless the team plans on bringing in a veteran sometime soon, is it possible that if Masoli can show some flair as an all-purpose utility guy, maybe he is kept around? Without the constraints of the emergency QB rule he could be the third QB, a return man, a running back, or just about anything. He could be brought in on some gadget players, whether it be reverses with a WR pass, or Wildcat formations, or really whatever.
This could very well be a longshot, but if the 49ers don't bring in a veteran QB to compete for the second or third spot, does the team simply go with no third QB at this point?