This Monday, the San Francisco 49ers will interview Steve Wilks for their open Defensive Coordinator spot. San Francisco’s former defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans has been hired as the new Houston Texans Head Coach. Wilks was most recently the interim head coach with the Carolina Panthers. Despite losing out on the Panthers’ head coaching job, the 49ers will interview Steve Wilks next week.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 3, 2023
49ers will interview Steve Wilks: Coaching History
With the fact that the 49ers will interview Steve Wilks, it is important to look back on his coaching history within the NFL. Wilks has been a coach in the NFL for 15 years, according to Pro Football History. He began in 2006 with the Chicago Bears as the Defensive Backs coach. He eventually moved on to work with the San Diego Chargers in 2009, before they moved to Los Angeles. Wilks started there as the Secondary Coach, then moved up to be the Assistant Head Coach.
Wilks’ first tenure with the Carolina Panthers was from 2012 to 2017. After moving around in different coaching positions, the 2017 season was when Wilks finally became a Defensive Coordinator for the team. This helped him get the job with the Arizona Cardinals where he was the Head Coach in 2018. Wilks went 3-13 that season then was let go by the team. He went back to be a defensive coordinator with the Browns for a year before going back to the Panthers in 2022.
Wilks began the year as the Defensive Pass Game Coordinator and Secondary Coach. The Panthers went 1-4 to begin the season. Following a loss against the San Francisco 49ers, the team fired their head coach, Matt Rhule. Wilks became the Interim Head Coach, and the team went 6-6 despite trading away two of their top players.
49ers will interview Steve Wilks: Why a Potential Good Fit
Wilks has a strong history of coaching various defenses. When he was with the Carolina Panthers in 2017 as the Defensive Coordinator, the team went 11-5 and made playoffs. He also managed to go 6-6 this season as the Interim Head Coach. According to the Carolina Panthers’ ownership, one of the reasons that Wilks was not hired was that they wanted an offensive mind. The San Francisco 49ers have a solid defense, despite the potential to lose key players in free agency.
One important note is that Wilks seems to have worked primarily with the defensive backs. Depending on free agency, the secondary is quite young for the 49ers. The team made a massive jump in that position from 2021 to 2022. The team had 20 interceptions in the 2022 regular season compared to nine in 2021, according to ESPN.
The Panthers’ edge rusher, Brian Burns also talked very highly of Wilks at the Pro Bowl. Burns is one of the top players on the current Panthers roster, and his opinion of his former coach speaks volumes. The way Burns explains Wilks helped him be a better rusher, it would be great to see what he can do with this already strong 49ers defense.
While the 49ers will interview Steve Wilks for the Defensive Coordinator position on Monday, other names have also been brought up. The Washington Commanders’ defensive backs coach, Chris Harris is another candidate. This would be another indication that the team will be working on their secondary in 2023. There is also a possibility that the team will promote defensive lines coach, Kris Kocurek.
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