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Steve Wilks provided 49ers a boost with sideline presence

Nov 17, 2023 at 9:13 AM--

The move of San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks from the coaching box to the sidelines during games has been a significant talking point. Probably a bigger talking point than it should have been.

Wilks coached from the sidelines during Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It might be a coincidence that the 49ers finally snapped a three-game losing streak and the defense seemed to be playing improved football, but general manager John Lynch noticed a difference in the sideline energy.

"It just felt right," Lynch said Friday morning on Bay Area radio station KNBR's "Murph and Mac" show. "I mean, I think that's a process you have to go through."

On Thursday, reflecting on the experience of returning to the sidelines, Wilks stated, "I enjoyed the interaction with the players. I think, in that regard, it was good to be able to look in their eyes and communicate and create some clarity in my thoughts moving to the next series."

However, Wilks was quick to point out, "Believe me, that wasn't nowhere near the reason why [the defense played better]. We got good players and me being down on the sideline had nothing to do with it."

Wilks took over the position from DeMeco Ryans, who departed to become the head coach of the Houston Texans. Lynch acknowledged that there can be an indoctrination period for new coaches. While the 49ers didn't believe Wilks' location during games was having a detrimental effect on the defense, the struggles ahead of Sunday's victory prompted a change.

"It went smooth right away," Lynch said, referring to the team's 5-0 start to the season. "We hit a little speed bump. And I think it's courageous of Kyle to be able to make a call like that and say, 'You know what? We're going to flip the script, and my instinct says he should be down there.'

"And I think, like I said last week, it's what our players are accustomed to. Steve has tremendous energy. He has tremendous presence. For him to be down there, amongst the players, I really and always have believed, for everything you gain going upstairs, there is the connectivity to your players.

"And we've got players that can give great feedback, and it's a lot easier to do it in person and communicate between the groups. So, I just thought it was awesome. It looked like he was having fun down there. And part of this thing—sometimes we forget—it should be fun. It's high stakes, there's a lot of pressure involved, but you got to have fun, and I think it was cool just to see him having fun down there with our players."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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