Focus on Panthers: 49ers face struggling Carolina team with both coach and quarterback under fire

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Carolina quarterback Baker Mayfield had five batted balls and two interceptions in a 26-16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Charlotte, N.C.

Talk about a season quickly riding off the rails. After losing three of their first four games, Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule is already answering questions about his job security and if Baker Mayfield will remain his quarterback going forward.

The answers Monday, a day after the Panthers fell to 1-3 after a 26-16 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals, were about what you’d expect as Carolina begins preparation for another home game Sunday against the 49ers.

Rhule sidestepped a question about his job security.

“If I make it about me I’m not the coach I want to be,” Rhule told reporters. “It’s always about the players. It’s always about the team. We’re 1-3. We’ve had some close ballgames. It just wasn’t good enough last night. As head coach, I’ll stand up first, put it on my shoulders.”

As for Mayfield, acquired from Cleveland after the Browns pledged their future to Deshaun Watson despite a scandal involving sexual misconduct toward numerous massage therapists, Rhule said the quarterback’s job is secure.

That’s because Sam Darnold, who started 11 games a year ago, is still at least a week away from being active and then will need time to get his rhythm back after an ankle injury put him on injured reserve.

“Baker’s our quarterback,” Rhule said. “We…

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