June 23, 2024

The 49ers of San Francisco are looking to replace their defensive coordinator.

Steve Wilks was let go by the 49ers, according to Kyle Shanahan’s announcement on Wednesday, following their four defensive possessions against the Chiefs, during which they allowed 19 points. A fireable offense could not have won the Super Bowl by itself, of course, but there has been a simmering issue all season long.

Regarding Wilks’ departure, Niners Nation said the following:

Throughout the season, you could see the writing on the wall. By mid-season, Wilks had relocated from the booth to the sidelines. This team has been able to hang its hat on a consistently porous run defense for years. On a few plays in the NFC Championship, the effort was appalling. That is not possible in the NFC Championship, much less at any level or at any time. The last straw came when Shanahan, behind by many first downs, requested a timeout in a two-minute window.

Wilks’s in-season press briefings were generally uncomfortable, with him frequently apologizing for something that happened the week before. Ignoring the disconnect that has been staring us in the face the entire season is difficult.

As well as some quotes from Kyle Shanahan explaining his dissatisfaction with marrying the pass rush and the coverage together:

“When you have some good players who have played at a high level, I’m not just trying to change that. I have to make sure that I find the right person of leading our group.”

That leader better know how to marry the front seven and secondary. When asked if that was a struggle, Shanahan did not shy away from it:

“It has to do with the way we play linebacker and stuff like that—the way Fred and Dre have done it over the years. You want to bind everything together. Just with his background, it was harder than it needed to be.”

The 49ers’ defense once again excelled, ranking third in points allowed and fourth in DVOA. However, their run defense was not especially good and their 3rd down defense was one of the worst in the NFL. It was always going to be difficult to maintain the standards set by last year’s No. 1 overall DVOA unit under DeMeco Ryans, but San Francisco didn’t drop off that substantially in year one with Wilks.

Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs

 

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