It’s officially official. The 49ers have hired Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks to become their new defensive coordinator. Kyle Shanahan was consistent about keeping the continuity scheme-wise with the current talent that’s on the roster.
There won’t be any changes with Wilks, who runs a similar 4-3 scheme and will likely stay aggressive on obvious passing downs. Wilks is a quality hire that inherits the league’s best defense.
The 53 year old has been working in the NFL for nearly two decades, aside from a one-year stint in college back in 2021. Wilks is a defensive backs coach by trade, so we can expect continued development for youngsters such as Talanoa Hufanga and Deommodore Lenoir.
The next question is what other changes will be made to the rest of the defensive staff. Will Cory Undlin, whose contract was not renewed, follow DeMeco Ryans to Houston? Daniel Bullocks was the safeties coach previously. He could be in line for a promotion to defensive back's coach under Wilks.
Shanahan has yet to miss when hiring a defensive coordinator, and it’s hard to imagine Wilks faltering given his experience and the talent on the roster. If Wilks is looking to leverage his way into a head coaching job, there isn’t a better fit for him than the 49ers.
This is a win-win for San Francisco, as they’d net a pair of third round compensatory picks in the event that Wilks does get hired as a head coach down the line.