49ers running back Christian McCaffrey believes that the NFL’s 2011 abolishment of the “emergency quarterback” rule cost his team a chance to go to the Super Bowl.

After losing both Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson to injuries during the NFC Championship game, San Francisco’s offense stagnated badly in a 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“You don’t want to make excuses, but it just sucks, because we wish we had a healthy quarterback for a full game and just kind of see how the game would have panned out,” McCaffrey said on FanDuel TV’s Up and Adams. “It’s a really good team that we played, but it feels like something got stolen from you. Just wish it would have played out differently.”

Following an injury to Purdy on the first drive and another injury to Johnson early in the third quarter, McCaffrey was preparing to play quarterback himself before head coach Kyle Shanahan ultimately decided to put Purdy back in the game. The 49ers starter finished the game despite serious limitations in his throwing elbow. He could barely throw a forward pass.

Under NFL regulations from 1991 to 2011, every team had a third unrostered quarterback, known as an emergency quarterback, that could play when both quarterbacks on the depth chart were unavailable. The rule was scrapped when owners agreed to expand rosters from 45 to 46 players, giving teams the option to roster three quarterbacks without mandating it.

It’s obviously impossible to know how the rule could have changed the 49ers’ final result against the Eagles, who will play the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl this Sunday. But if it had been put in place, it would have at least given the team another option and given the team to protect Purdy, who will now require a year to recover from a UCL injury.

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