49ers Make Major Coaching Decision After the Super Bowl

Kyle Shanahan

Getty Kyle Shanahan fired Steve Wilks after the Super Bowl.

After one season with the San Francisco 49ers, defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is out.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan announced the decision via a conference call according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Wilks helped the 49ers reach a Super Bowl this  past season, but the team couldn’t stop the Kansas City Chiefs in the end amid a 25-22 overtime loss.

Shanahan’s decision comes only a day after he said the defense was “one of the reasons that we go this far” during Tuesday’s press conference. His comments included affirmation of the Super Bowl performance where the Niners held the Chiefs to three points in the first half.

“I thought they did a number of good things. They did a lot of good things in that game too,” Shanahan told the media. “Just like our whole team. Our team did a bunch of good things this year, but came up short in the last game.”

Kyle Shanahan Side-Stepped Questions on Steve Wilks’ Future Before Wednesday

Shanahan also said they hadn’t talked about future plans as for Tuesday. However, Shanahan mentioned a myriad of considerations in the process.

“No, that’s stuff that we will talk about a ton as this week goes,” Shanahan said. “We’ll talk about a ton in the offseason. Where we want our team to be, our defense, our offense, special teams, and that’s a lot of conversations, a lot of film, a lot of personnel and salary cap things we’ve got to discuss, Draft. So no, I haven’t even watched the game yet to tell you the truth.”

In addition, Shanahan dodged the most direct question of all on Tuesday — is Wilks “coming back next year?”

“I haven’t talked to anybody yet. So yeah, I expect all our coaches to be back,” Shanahan maintained.

Despite Shanahan keeping any decision under wraps after the Super Bowl until Wednesday, firing Wilks didn’t come as a total surprise. Sports Illustrated’s Albert  Breer noted there was evidence before Wednesday.

“There were signs at the end of the Super Bowl that Kyle Shanahan was less-than-pleased with the defensive strategy [particularly with the timeout]. So this isn’t the most shocking move in the world,” Breer wrote.

Steve Wilks Had Been Under Fire With 49ers

Wilks had been under fire at times during the season — especially amid the 49ers’ 3-game slide in October. In addition, the Niners couldn’t contain MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Night.

Things didn’t get drastically better in the playoffs. San Francisco had struggles against first-time playoff quarterback Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers followed by 24 first half points allowed by the Detroit Lions.

Wilks, 54, previously served as the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers in 2022 where the team elevated him to interim head coach. The Panthers fired Matt Rhule during the season before he took a head coaching job at Nebraska in 2023.

For Wilks, he has been coaching at the college level or the NFL since 1995 when he first served as the defensive coordinator at John C. Smith. NFL stops for Wilks have included multiple stints with the Panthers, then-San Diego Chargers, Chicago Bears, and Arizona Cardinals.