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Ex-Panthers coach Rhule wanted to draft Purdy before team veto

Ex-Panthers coach Rhule wanted to draft Purdy before team veto originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

In an alternate universe, 49ers QB Brock Purdy might not be preparing for Super Bowl LVIII right about now.

The 2022 NFL Draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" has led the 49ers to the grand stage in his first full season as a starter, but things could have been different.

Former Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule revealed Wednesday he wanted the team to draft Purdy, but was "vetoed."

"I think Brock Purdy is an amazing player," Rhule said during a press conference as head coach of Nebraska. "...When I was in the draft room in Carolina, I brought his name up. I said, 'Hey guys, he should be on the draft board.' I got vetoed on that one."

Rhule was the head coach at Baylor from 2017 to 2019, crossing paths with Purdy while the quarterback was at Iowa State. Baylor beat Purdy's Cyclones 23-21 in 2019 to move to 4-0 while Iowa State dropped to 2-2. Purdy completed 27 of 42 passes for 342 yards, two touchdowns and one pick.

The Panthers hired Rhule in 2020 and they did pick a quarterback in the 2022 draft: Matt Corral of Ole Miss in the third round.

Corral was one of six players picked in Carolina's 2022 class, but he suffered a Lisfranc injury in preseason and never logged an official snap. He last appeared with the New England Patriots in 2023.

Rhule's ties to Purdy and the 49ers don't end there. After San Francisco won 37-15 in Carolina during the 2022 season, the Panthers fired Rhule amid Carolina's 1-4 start. Steve Wilks, the current 49ers defensive coordinator, was named Panthers interim coach at the time.

Now Purdy and Wilks are on the same team hoping to bring a sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy back to the Bay.

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