Christian McCaffrey became the latest from the San Francisco 49ers to sound off on the devastating NFC Championship game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Except the running back wasn’t zeroing in on the Eagles.
The running back instead dialed in on what he hopes to see the league change moving forward after the game.
Appearing on the Up and Adams Show at the site of the 2023 Super Bowl on Wednesday, February 8, McCaffrey told Kay Adams that he not only felt like the chance of an NFC title was stolen from the Niners, but that a certain NFL rule also put S.F. in a bind — a rule he hopes can be changed after the 31-7 loss.
“It feels like something got stolen from you…Hopefully they change that rule where you can carry a third quarterback,” McCaffrey said.
As many viewers and 49er fans remember, San Francisco ended up with two injured quarterbacks in Brock Purdy (elbow) and Josh Johnson (concussion), which left the running back McCaffrey as the emergency QB. But S.F. wasn’t able to carry three healthy quarterbacks for the playoffs due to the rule McCaffrey alluded to.
The rule was ended in 2011. From 1991 to 2010, NFL teams were allowed to have a third QB on gameday without him counting toward the 45-player roster limit. Once the league lifted the limit to 46 players, quarterback was an eligible position to have as an extra player along with other positions of a teams’ choosing — a la running back, wide receiver, cornerback, etc. Quarterbacks, however, are rarely added through this rule because the 46th player is often reserved for someone in a rotational role.
As it was, the 49ers were already dealing with a limited backfield heading toward Philadelphia as Elijah Mitchell was ruled out with an injury and Tevin Coleman was elevated.
McCaffrey Dives Further Into Emotions of Defeat
For McCaffrey, he finally witnessed his first playoff win in his All-Pro career by coming over to the 49ers in the blockbuster midseason trade by the Carolina Panthers. His last playoff appearance before the run to the conference title game was his rookie season, which was a wild card loss to the New Orleans Saints.
“Run CMC” went on to help lead the Niners to two home playoff wins before running into the Eagles. Now that the NFC title game is nearing two weeks old, McCaffrey was asked how that loss still sits with him.
“It’s tough. It’s really tough,” McCaffrey said. “You don’t want to make excuses, obviously. But it sucks because you wish we had healthy quarterbacks for a full game to see how it would go and how the game would’ve panned out. It’s a really good team that we played, but it feels like something got stolen from you. Just wish it would’ve played out differently.”
Adams then asked, could there have been a scenario where Jimmy Garoppolo could’ve gone in?
“I don’t know, that’s above my pay grade,” McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey on Thought of Playing QB & Brock Purdy Staying in
Again, McCaffrey was in a situation where he could’ve been the one handling snaps behind center for the duration of the game. What was his thought process in that scenario?
McCaffrey said how there wasn’t a lot going through his head about the thought of lining up at quarterback at Lincoln Financial Field, explaining, “we had a couple of packages out there, possibly we could’ve done some stuff. But at that point, Brock could still hand the ball off an could still throw some screens.”
While watching his own teammate try to fight through the elbow ailment on his throwing arm, McCaffrey lauded the grit of his starting signal-caller given the circumstances he faced.
“And I think that’s a testament to how tough he was to stand in that game and continue to do some stuff because that is a serious injury. A lot of people would’ve never done that,” McCaffrey said.