The result of the NFC Championship was infuriating for several reasons. But none were bigger than seeing a 49ers offense that was on a tear during the previous month and a half look inept for the majority of the game.
Brock Purdy making the 49ers not just competitive, but a contender, served as one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. But once Purdy admitted he couldn’t throw the ball beyond ten yards, San Francisco had to turn to Josh Johnson.
There are no expectations for a fourth-string quarterback. That statement gets magnified in the NFC Championship. Josh Johnson looked like a player that spent all week practicing the role of Jalen Hurts.
Johnson’s efforts paid off for the defense, but the offense wasn’t as fortunate. Then, once Johnson suffered a concussion, the 49ers were literally out of options at the most important position in the sport.
Star tight end George Kittle voiced his frustrations at the podium:
“Losing your starting quarterback who’s a third-string rookie to your fourth-string quarterback who did everything he could – gets hurt right away in the third quarter, and then you can only run the ball – it’s tough, it’s frustrating.
You dress two quarterbacks and neither one of them can throw and neither one of them is really available, it kind of limits what you can do as an offense. Kind of limits our playbook to like 15 plays. So, you can only do so much.”
If the NFL bent the overtime rules for the Buffalo Bills last offseason, then the league should have no choice to look into expanding playoff rosters for emergency situations that the 49ers ran into Sunday.
The odds you lose two starting quarterbacks in a game rival winning the lottery. Still, the 49ers would have loved to dress Jimmy Garoppolo in the event of any unforeseen circumstances. Garoppolo told Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area, “I wish I had a helmet.”
Kittle voiced his frustrations after he was asked how the loss felt: “How’s that feel to lose an NFC Championship because I don’t have a quarterback? Pretty sh*tty to be honest. That’s about it.”
We were robbed of what was shaping out to be an epic NFC Championship since the 49ers offense couldn’t stay on the field and had no hope for points. For the first time all season, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers offense were helpless.
Since it was through no fault of their own, I’m curious whether expanded rosters get brought up during the NFL’s owner’s meetings this offseason. The change is simple: Reinstate the ability for teams to dress a third quarterback, who will only be eligible to play if the first two quarterbacks are injured.