The 49ers got their man.
According to Tom Peliserro of NFL Network, Wilks is set to become the next defensive coordinator for San Francisco. Wilks will replace DeMeco Ryans. Ryans became the new head coach for the Houston Texans last week after two successful seasons coordinating the Niners defense.
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 in , 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.