Fans of the San Francisco 49ers no longer have to worry about who will succeed DeMeco Ryans, as the Niners have found their guy with a “big hire” as one NFL insider called it.
First reported by the NFL Network insider duo of Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, the 49ers are officially turning to Steve Wilks to succeed Ryans and handle the NFL’s top defense for 2023.
“A big hire for the #49ers. Steve Wilks lands in SF, per me and @TomPelissero,” Rapoport said. Pelissero added how Wilks, formerly the interim head coach of the Carolina Panthers and their defensive coordinator, lands in an “ideal spot” in the Bay Area.
Reactions Sprout From 49er & Panther Fans Plus Media
Media, fans, even one politician sounded off on the Wilks hire.
“Great hire,” NFL Network fantasy football analyst Adam Rank said.
One fan was hoping the 49ers would bring back Ejiro Evero, who got his coaching start with the Niners but ended up heading to Charlotte to replace Wilks. But was content on the Wilks hire.
“Liked Evero more, but 49ers seemed keyed in on a guy, who by all accounts, seems to have done an exceptional job with the Panthers. Whose players loved him. And who will importantly bring continuity schematically,” the fan said. “Bonus for 49ers is he specializes with the DBs, needed that.”
The Panthers fan podcast “The 4 Man Rush” called it a “great opportunity for Wilks.”
Mike Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle added how Wilks will likely have a say on who stays on the 49ers defensive staff. And Silver believes there won’t be any changes.
“I expect new Niners DC Steve Wilks to keep most or all of the current defensive assistants,” Silver posted.
The Athletic’s 49ers insider David Lombardi calls this hire a “continuity” type move for the 49ers and their defensive structure.
“New 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, 53, is a former DB and DB coach — that’s his root background. He’s adopted some pattern-matching zone coverages in the past related to the Cover 3, of which SF still runs a lot. ‘Continuity’ is key for [Kyle] Shanahan — Wilks a fit for that,” Lombardi tweeted.
Charlotte City Councilman Larken Egleston even chimed in on watching Wilks take his next gig.
“Well-deserved opportunity for a great guy. Congrats, @ScoreonD,” Egleston said.
What to Anticipate From Wilks
Again, this hire is one that’s labeled as a continuation of what the 49ers have already implemented under Shanahan.
With Wilks in Charlotte, Carolina’s strength began on the defensive line. The Panthers’ edge rushers were responsible for 22 of the team’s 35 sacks this past season. Carolina also got production inside from Derrick Brown, who took fifth on the team in total tackles with 67.
But linebackers also thrived under Wilks. Frankie Luvu delivered his first career 100-tackle season and posted career-best numbers in solo tackles and sacks through Wilks. Shaq Thompson, one of the last members of the Panthers’ Super Bowl 50 team, was another linebacker who posted career-high numbers in tackles and solo stops.
Lastly, Wilks got his most takeaway production from his cornerbacks — as Jaycee Horn, C.J. Henderson and Donte Jackson all combined for seven of their 10 interceptions. The 49ers only got four from their CBs during the regular season before Deommodore Lenoir snatched two picks in the playoffs.