The San Francisco 49ers made the hiring of Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator official on Thursday. The team also announced the hire of Klint Kubiak as offensive passing game specialist, Jacob Webster as defensive quality control coach and Max Molz as coaching operations assistant.
A leader of men, Wilks has shown the ability to inspire and motivate his players.
This past season saw Wilks named as interim head coach in Carolina, replacing Matt Rhule following a 1-4 start. Under new leadership the Panthers improved to 6-6 in their final 12 contests, falling a game short of Tampa Bay for the NFC South championship.
Wilks began his NFL career in 2005 as secondary coach for Washington. Stints as the defensive backs coach for Chicago and San Diego followed. In 2012 he joined Carolina for the first time as the defensive backs coach under Ron Rivera. Under Wilks’ tutelage Josh Norman was named first team All-Pro helping the Panthers to a 15-1 record and Super Bowl berth in 2015.
This will mark Wilks’ third appointment to defensive coordinator. He previously was the defensive coordinator for Carolina in 2017 and Cleveland in 2019. In between, Wilks served as head coach in Arizona where two of his three wins came against his new employer.
Wilks will take over a 49ers defense which allowed the fewest points (16.3) and second fewest yards (299.7) per game in 2022.
During his end of year press conference on February 1, Kyle Shanahan said he was “hoping to find someone who fits with us personality-wise and scheme wise.” He has found that with Wilks who has a history working with a hybrid 4-3 and Wide 9 defense. Wilks’ history of success in the secondary will be beneficial for a 49ers defense likely to have a pair of new starters in its defensive backfield.
Kubiak is the son of former NFL head coach and 49ers quarterbacks coach Gary Kubiak. His brother Klay is currently the 49ers assistant quarterback’s coach.
Last season Kubiak served as the passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos. He previously spent three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings as the team’s offensive coordinator (2021) and quarterbacks coach (2019-20).
Prior to his time with Minnesota, Kubiak had his first stint in Denver as offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach for three seasons. He broke into the NFL as a quality control/assistant wide receivers coach for Minnesota from 2013-14.
Kubiak began his coaching career in the college ranks. He served as offensive quality control coach at Texas A&M (2010-11) before becoming a graduate assistant/inside wide receivers coach for the Aggies in 2012.
Webster joins the 49ers after spending the 2022 season as an offensive graduate assistant at the University of Wisconsin. Webster spent the previous two years at the University of Missouri where he served as a defensive graduate assistant and a volunteer.
Molz joins the 49ers from the University of Missouri where he served as the associate director of football operations. Prior to his time at Missouri, Molz attended Saint Mary’s College of California. During his time in Moraga, Molz was a student manager for the Gaels’ baseball team for four seasons.
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Good stuff, Jack Hammer!
Hey guys, shout out to JOHN LYNCH, KYLE SHANAHAN, and the 49ers entire player personnel department because, IMO, the 49ers are having one of the best NFL off-seasons of the entire NFL. STEVE WILKS is the man I coveted the most after learning that DeMeco Ryans was leaving this off-season, and JAVON HARGRAVES was at the very TOP of my FA list!
Adding HARGRAVES alone, was a homerun IMO, but adding guys like DARNOLD, FERREL, OLIVER, HARTSFIELD & FELICIANO, while resigning key players like JENNINGS, McKIVITZ, McGILL, GIPSON JR & BRENDEL, really feels like JOHN LYNCH, PARAAG MARATHE and company are simply HITTING ON ALL CYLANDERS right now. KYLE has his faults, but when you take his ability as an an offensive GURU, and add one of the NFL’s very best FRONT OFFICES, you have what can only be considered one of the NFL’s most impressive teams from an operational and ORGANIZATIONAL standpoints, and even JED YORK himself has come along way as an owner.
Even the most skeptical among us (me), has to admit that the San Francisco 49ers are operating at an ELITE LEVEL right now, from an organizational standpoint, and as a FORTY NINER FAITHFUL, I couldn’t be more excited about what’s next! 3 NFC Championship games in the last FOUR YEARS feels like just the beginning, and I’m stoked about that!
Wow! Never expected such positive comments from Jaxson about the Niners’ organization and prospects. If he surprisingly has become a believer, so should the other skeptics on this blog, including that poster who keeps arguing the 49ers are a bust under Kyle. Here, here Jaxson!
Hey Rob, I don’t know who could argue that the 49ERS are a bust under Kyle at this point, considering they have gone to 3 Conference Championships and a Super Bowl in a the stretch of 4 years! Kyle has one real flaw, IMO, and that’s his inability to see the big picture, because he’s perhaps a little too emotional in his decision making.
For instance: I don’t understand why Kyle can’t give TREY LANCE an opportunity to run the same style offense as Jimmy and Brock! In fact Trey Lance kind of represents Kyle’s biggest flaw as a HC, but hot damn it’s hard to put shame the kind of strength that the 49ers have developed organizationally under Kyle, and the fact that he brought John Lynch in along with himself is one of the best decision a person could ever make!
JOHN LYNCH represents the best of the NFL! In fact, John Lynch just might end up being Roger Goodell’s successor, because he’s developed that kind of reputation now among NFL circles!
Also, it’s fascinating to watch Steve Wilks put his stamp on the defense, and I for one have 100% confidence in him, and what he does as a defensive coach who specializes on pass defense. In fact, with Kyle and Kris Kocurek and company already in house, I simply can’t think of a better match defensively, than Steve Wilks!
Look for the Niners to actually take another step FORWARD this coming season, both offensively and defensively! The AFC may have more talent as a conference, but the 49ers appear to be at the top of the pyramid in the NFC, and that’s a fun place to be as a NINER fan!
Who are you, and what have you done with 49Reasons?! lol
I like Wilks as well. And if he could make a great defense even better, I’m all in.
Hey AES, all I know is that I am ready now to push back against the naysayers. Look, I’ve been hard on Kyle, and my issues with him have been proven legit in a lot of ways, but after this last season, when you drill down to the basics, I just can’t find a lot of fault with what Kyle’s niners have done! I do wish Kyle would do a better job at delegating, and letting his personnel guys handle the roster 99%, but there is absolutely NO QUESTION that Kyle’s scheme is ELITE, in and of itself!
And Kyle deserves credit for the successes of his defense as well, because he’s responsible for hiring Saleh, Ryans, and now Wilks, who just might be the best DC of the bunch. In fact, I think this defense, under Wilks, will take the 49ers to even greater heights! Especially with Hargraves now wreaking havoc on the interior of the DL, along with Wilks specialty as a secondary specialist. It’s a perfect fit!
Imho, I believe that Shanahan has a great record in delegating as has been proven by producing head coaches around the league.
And if Wilks can help the 49ers win a Super Bowl this coming season, he could be a hot candidate for a head coaching job in 2024.
For two people that had no experience as a head coach and GM, Shanahan and Lynch have done great.
I hope they can keep him 2 years, thats what it takes to receive comp picks.
Good point, Coach.
At this rate the 49ers could corner the market on comp picks.
What I am looking forward to the most regarding Wilks is he likes to blitz. I don’t believe that he will blitz too much with the kind of front four they have, but he will blitz more than Ryans or Saleh. I think if they had blitzed more late last season the D would have been better. Let teams try to double Hargrave and double or chip on Bosa then Wilks can unleash Warner, Greenlaw or Hufanga. Wilks could turn Greenlaw or Warner into the next Lawrence Taylor. Because he is a DB whisperer I think Wilks will be creative in his coverages so they won’t be burned in the secondary by blitzing. I think he will end up being better than Saleh or Ryans and that is saying a lot. Now lets pick up a couple more edge players in a very deep edge draft. imho
Add Isaiah Oliver to the mix?
and a 3rd round S, maybe Sydney Brown or Jordan Battle.
PFF has Battle as their number 72 overall pick and CBS has him at number 84 on their list.
Of course, these opinions are subjective, but they do provide a range of reference.
As the football sage around here (😉), what would you do to move up to draft him?
I wouldn’t move up to get him, if he is gone by 99 I would just draft Brown. The only position I would move up for is RT but if Freeland or Steen are going to be available at 99 I would wait. I think they may need all 11 to get to a full roster as opposed to signing 15-18 UDFAs.
Personally, I feel that with 7 comp picks to work with, the 49ers are in an ideal position to move up if there’s someone that they really like at the end of rd 2, or early in rd 3. Also, they can fill out the roster by signing UDFA’s if they trade comps for a higher pick.
Hey, Jack. Will you do a 49ers mock draft scenario anytime soon? I’d like to see your possible draft projections so I can check out their highlight tape.
I have been calling for this for the last couple of years- but this year, may finally come to fruition w Lenoir and Ward.. and either Oliver or Womack in the slot. My concern is that the 49ers Safety’s coverage skills remain somewhat unproven…… I would also like to see a Safety in round 3.
Jon Feliciano’s 1-year contract with the 49ers:
-$1.165m base salary (vet min)
-$1m signing bonus
-$85k workout bonus
-no void years on this one
$2.25m salary-cap hit
I would like more information about this. I know Wilks ran some sort of wide 9 formations in Washington with more of Rivera’s heavy pressure blitz tendencies. But I’d like to know more about it. I know that the 49er’s use of the Wide 9 was originally a wrinkle added by Saleh to his base Under Front. The 49ers moved away from that Under Front and more towards close to full time use of the Wide 9 formation. But at times when the 49ers have needed to defend against the inside run (like the Raiders game) that stronger front was needed like they had with the Under Front (only one bubble).
My sense is that the Klay Kubiak hire is more of a situation where Kubiak will be learning from Kyle more than adding anything new to the offense. The Kubiak’s and Shanahan’s are well known lifelong friends so this is probably more of a personal fit for Kyle than anything Kubiak brings to the table. Gary Kubiak was the long time backup of John Elway. Gary was also Mike Shanahan’s OC for a long time. I’m a huge Gary Kubiak fan so I’m totally cool with hiring his kid. Gary really is the original partner with Mike Shanahan to develop the origins of the offense Kyle now employs. Gary Kubiak had one of the best offenses in the NFL with Matt freaking Schaub as his QB and Kyle was on that staff. Kyle has taken that strategy and modernized it and improved it for the modern game.
Glad to see everyone is excited about the Steve Wilks hire. I do not share that enthusiasm. Steve Wilks has only ever coached one successful defense. And that defense was the defense Ron Rivera built and Sean McDermott perfected. Wilks has not been a successful coach since that year with Carolina but most of that credit should go to Ron Rivera. Since that year, Wilks has been run out of Arizona, run out of Cleveland, and run out of his college job as a DC for Missouri. In fact, the defense Wilks had in Missouri was one of the worst defenses in college football history. Every defense Wilks has run at any level in the past 5 years has been absolutely terrible. My impression is that Wilks is a very good DB coach but a horrible Defensive Coordinator. Hope I’m wrong but I think the step down from DeMeco to Wilks is like stepping off the Grand Canyon.
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