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Should Matt Rhule be on the hot seat after Week 5 loss to 49ers?

We may be nearing the end of the Matt Rhule era in Charlotte.

San Francisco 49ers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers were dominated by the San Francisco 49ers in a 37-15 loss on Sunday, dropping them to 1-4 on the season. The team once again struggled on both sides of the ball and they are now tied with the Detroit Lions and Washington Commanders for the worst record in the NFC.

Head coach Matt Rhule was identified as one of the biggest hot seat candidates in the NFL heading into the season and the calls for his job has only grown louder with each passing week. Rhule is now 11-27 since taking over in Charlotte in 2020 and it’s increasingly unlikely that the tide will turn with Baker Mayfield struggling at quarterback.

One element that could push Rhule out the door sooner rather than later is the college football coaching carousel ramping up. As more programs like Nebraska, Wisconsin, and potentially Auburn make their own mid-season firings, Rhule’s name continues to be brought up for a potential return to the college game.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported on Friday that if the embattled head coach lands a college coaching job, the Panthers would get a dollar-for-dollar credit for his buyout. That increases the incentive for the franchise to push Rhule out the door and back into the college ranks. Florio has since reported that it’s not a matter of if, but when he gets fired.

Carolina’s schedule doesn’t get any easier as they have a road trip out west to face the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday, followed by a home visit from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following week. If the Panthers are 1-6 at that point, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rhule get shown the door before Halloween.