49ers force Panthers to fire head coach Matt Rhule

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) /

The 49ers put the finishing stamp on the Panthers’ decision to fire head coach Matt Rhule in the wake of Week 5’s 37-15 victory for San Francisco.

The San Francisco 49ers just ended the tenure of now-former Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule.

Sure, Rhule entered the 2022 season on the hot seat, especially in light of what was a seven-game losing streak to close out last year and amid the Panthers’ notoriously bad offensive struggles over the first five weeks of this one.

In the wake of the Niners’ 37-15 beatdown of Carolina in Week 5, the Panthers essentially had no choice, firing him, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Monday morning:

Shortly thereafter, Carolina released the official statement about Rhule’s firing:

"The Panthers on Monday parted ways with head coach Matt Rhule, after the team fell to 1-4 with a home loss to San Francisco.He leaves with an 11-27 record (.289 winning percentage).The 47-year-old Rhule had generally turned his college teams at Temple and Baylor around in his third season, but that bounce hadn’t happened here so far.He will be replaced on an interim basis by defensive pass game coordinator/secondary coach Steve Wilks. The 53-year-old Wilks spent one year as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, and six years on the Panthers staff from 2012-17."

During the game itself, there weren’t too many glaring moments where Rhule looked completely outclassed and outcoached, and one should make the argument he’d be less embarrassed than San Francisco should be at losing to Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett back in Week 3.

Hackett is still likely way in over his head, although Rhule certainly set himself up for failure with plenty of his own mistakes.

And while Carolina managed to muster 300-plus yards of offense for the first time all season against the 49ers, a good chunk of it came in garbage/desperation time when the Niners already had a sizable lead.

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers put the clamp down on Matt Rhule era with Panthers

San Francisco has been prone to playing down to the level of competition before under head coach Kyle Shanahan, and the differences in talent between the two teams on Sunday nevertheless raised concerns about whether or not the 49ers would let the Panthers “hang around” in the game.

Yet Shanahan called an excellent game plan, getting his ground game going again and dialing up relatively easy throws for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

All the while letting his elite defense clamp down and suffocate Rhule’s struggling offense.

In short, the Niners did what they should have done against an inferior opponent and head coach: not let up, fully displaying the disparity between the two squads.

While Rhule’s firing might have been inevitable, the fact San Francisco was the one to enforce it says a lot.

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