The Facts: The 49ers have decided to go with an external candidate to be their next defensive coordinator. San Francisco will hire Steve Wilks for the position, according to NFL Media.
Diehards Line: Wilks served as the Panthers interim head coach after Matt Rhule was fired during the 2022 season, compiling a 6-6 record with the club. The 49ers needed a new defensive coordinator after DeMeco Ryans departed the organization to become the Texans head coach. Wilks has previously run a 4-3 base defense, which provides some continuity with what the 49ers were running before. HC Kyle Shanahan previously said he wanted to keep a lot of things similar for 2023 with whoever became the team’s next DC. Wilks spent much of his career as a defensive backs coach, serving in that role for the Bears and Chargers before initially going to the Panthers in 2012. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017. The Cardinals hired him to be their head coach in 2018 and he was fired after one season. Wilks also served as the Browns defensive coordinator in 2019 and Mizzou’s defensive coordinator in 2021 before going back to the Panthers as their defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach in 2022. The last two 49ers defensive coordinators — Robert Saleh and Ryans — have both left the organization to become head coaches.