49ers fire defensive coordinator Steve Wilks

Feb 14, 2024 at 12:07 PM

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan held a surprise conference call with reporters on Wednesday, which was unexpected considering he had spoken with the media on Tuesday. Contrary to his previous statement indicating no anticipated coaching changes, Shanahan officially announced the termination of defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

"I've been sleeping on this for a few nights and trying to come up with a few tough decisions, but this morning, I relieved Steve Wilkes of his duties," Shanahan said. "Going to end up making a change here at defensive coordinator. A really tough decision because it really says nothing about Steve as a man or as a football coach. He's exactly what we wanted as a man. He is a great football coach. But just where we're going and where we're at with our team from a scheme standpoint and things like that, looking through it all throughout the year, through these last few days, I felt pretty strongly that this was a decision that was best for our organization.

"And even though it was one I didn't want to make, it was something that once I realized that I think a different direction is what's best for our organization, then it's something that I have to do. So let him know this morning, and I know I wasn't able to let you guys know yesterday because I wasn't sure about it yesterday. But I am now, and that's the case, and I wanted to let you guys know firsthand."

Shanahan acknowledged that the team's initial intention to bring in Wilks without altering the defensive scheme or personnel complicated his tenure with the 49ers. He commended Wilks for his willingness to try to adapt within those constraints.

"It just ended up not being the right fit," Shanahan continued. "And it hurt for me to do this, but that's exactly why I had to. ... But it was just for his background and how it ended up with us, it was harder than it needed to be, and I felt it would improve us going a different direction."

The 49ers will search for a replacement, considering both internal and external candidates.

Wilks' defense finished the regular season ranked eighth in yards allowed, third in points allowed, third in rushing yards allowed, and 14th in passing yards allowed. However, the unit struggled to defend against the run in the 49ers' playoff games.

Shanahan added, "I'm committed, with a situation we're in, trying to find what we believe will give the Niners the best chance in 2024. And when you have a group of guys who have played at a high level doing certain things a specific way for a while, I do feel that's (keeping the system intact) the best thing to do for them. But if I find something that I believe in and I could be sold on, that could be a better avenue, I would never hesitate to do that. So, I'm not closed-minded in any way. I'll look into every possibility."

Related News


More San Francisco 49ers News

placeholder image

Why Fred Warner loves Nick Sorensen as 49ers' defensive coordinator

By David Bonilla
4 hrs

The San Francisco 49ers' decision to hire Nick Sorensen as the defensive coordinator, replacing Steve Wilks, may have surprised some within the media. However, for star linebacker Fred Warner, it was a fantastic move. Given Sorensen's familiarity with the system, Warner expects the defense to benefit from the continuity, having been part of the 49ers' coaching staff since 2022. "Nick's great, man," Warner recently told NFL Network's Steve Wyche and Judy Battista. "I love the hire. Nick has been a part of this organization for a couple of years now and has been heavily involved with the linebackers, and he's played the game for a long

placeholder image

Steve Young: 49ers' best chance at a title may have passed

By David Bonilla
May 15

Steve Young believes the San Francisco 49ers may have missed their best opportunity for the organization's sixth Super Bowl victory. It was an uphill battle for the 49ers in the playoffs, requiring two comeback victories against perceived weaker opponents before suffering an overtime defeat in Las Vegas against the Kansas City Chiefs. For various reasons, the Hall of Fame quarterback feels that it was head coach Kyle Shanahan's best opportunity to silence his critics and finally emerge victorious in the NFL title game. Now, it's too early to predict how the 2024 season will unfold. The Niners could be just as competitive as last season. They might find themselves at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Sunday, February 9, 2025, competing against

placeholder image

Steve Young on keeping the 49ers competitive after paying Brock Purdy

By David Bonilla
May 16

The San Francisco 49ers are gearing up to elevate quarterback Brock Purdy to their highest-paid player status starting next year. Negotiations for a contract extension with the young signal-caller, entering his third NFL season, are on the horizon. Purdy's on-field performance has far exceeded his current salary. Last season, he set a single-season franchise record with 4,280 passing yards and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance while earning a base salary of $870,000. Even for the upcoming season, his salary will only bump up to $985,000. That may sound like a lot to the ordinary person, but it is only a fraction of the team's salary cap. However, Purdy's next contract is expected to catapult him into the ranks of the NFL's highest-paid players. That title

placeholder image

Watch: 49ers QB Brock Purdy throws out first pitch at Giants game

By David Bonilla
May 14

Fans had the opportunity to cheer for Brock Purdy tonight as the San Francisco 49ers quarterback threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Oracle Park, preceding the Giants' game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. QB1 has arrived 🫡 pic.twitter.com/FDDdVS30p4— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 15,


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone