49ers roster 2024: Niners don't want Brandon Allen to play... at all

Break here in case of emergency.

The Niners hope they don't have an emergency on their hands.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brandon Allen (17)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brandon Allen (17) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

If things go well in 2024, third-string quarterback Brandon Allen won't ever see the field for a regular-season snap.

The "Brock Purdy rule," as it became known after the quarterback's devastating injury early in the San Francisco 49ers' eventual loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2023 NFC Championship game, opened the door for teams to carry a third signal-caller on the gameday roster without counting against the active 47 players.

That third quarterback is technically inactive but still dresses for the game now, and the new rule allows him to enter the game if and only after the first two active quarterbacks depart because of injury.

As was the case with Purdy in that playoff bout, then his backup, Josh Johnson, who also exited that game with a concussion.

So, all of that brings us to the Niners' incumbent third-string quarterback, Brandon Allen, who joined head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad as a free-agent signing in 2023 after spending the previous three seasons backing up quarterback Joe Burrow with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Allen, who practiced alongside Purdy and then-No. 2 quarterback Sam Darnold after watching San Francisco trade the underdelivering hurler Trey Lance off ot the Dallas Cowboys, never saw the field during the regular season.

But, according to the new rule that was adopted a year ago, he was in uniform and could have gone into the game if both Purdy and Darnold suffered an injury.

Re-signing on a one-year deal worth up to $2.02 million, Allen is looking at precisely the same context as a year ago.

One which the 49ers hope he never sees a meaningful snap.

What do 49ers expect out of Brandon Allen in 2024?

The Niners watched Darnold sign a free-agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings during the offseason. He was then replaced by Josh Dobbs, a solid free-agent pickup and someone who'll effectively swap places with Darnold on the roster to back up Purdy.

Meanwhile, Allen is still No. 3 on the depth chart. Dobbs is the unquestioned backup, and his $2.25 million fully guaranteed contract cements this.

However, for Allen, it's not a bad deal. He's third in line on the depth chart, still gets a gameday check despite technically being "inactive" and almost entirely is guaranteed a spot on the 53-man roster for the rest of 2024.


Will Brandon Allen make 49ers' 53-man roster?

Barring injury, there's only one realistic scenario in which Allen wouldn't survive roster cuts at the end of the preseason.

After the 2024 NFL Draft, San Francisco inked former Wisconsin quarterback Tanner Mordecai as an undrafted free agent. While Mordecai has some positive traits and promise, the 49ers likely envision him as a camp body and possible addition to the practice squad, little else. That means Allen is all but guaranteed his roster spot for Week 1.

If Mordecai completely blows Allen out of the water in a competition for the third-string role, though, it'd be another story.

Even then, should Allen lose that No. 3 job, the Niners would be on the hook for $700,000 in dead money owed to him if cut.

An unlikely (but remotely possible) scenario.

All told, look for Allen to get plenty of preseason reps in 2024 but to hopefully not see the field at all during regular-season games.

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