49ers DC Steve Wilks seeks redemption, elusive Super Bowl ring

Greg Auman

NFC South Reporter

Steve Wilks has been here before, one win away from a championship.

In 2006, Wilks’ first year in the NFL, he was a Bears assistant when Chicago kept Peyton Manning in check and still lost the Super Bowl to the Colts. Nine years later, he was with the Panthers when they went 15-1 and made the big game. This time, Wilks’ defense sacked Manning five times and held him to 141 passing yards, yet Carolina came up short against the Broncos. 

Now he’s back as the 49ers defensive coordinator, again with an elite quarterback standing between him and a title, so the bar for his defense is set as high as possible against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday.

Wilks was blunt this week in his criticism of his unit’s play in the first half of the NFC Championship Game, falling into a 24-7 deficit against the Lions. The 49ers gave up a 42-yard touchdown on a run by receiver Jameson Williams and a 15-yard score by running back Jahmyr Gibbs, and Wilks was asked about the “effort in pursuit” by his defensive players.

“As a team, it’s unacceptable, and we talked about that,” he said. “I wish I could tell these guys, ‘On Play 4, on Play 27, this is what’s going to happen.’ You don’t know. We have to make sure we play every down as if it’s going to be the difference in the ballgame. You could see on those two particular plays, it wasn’t to our standard. Those guys understand and know that. Quite honestly, it was embarrassing.”

Sunday can be a validation for Wilks, who came to San Francisco this year after being passed over for the head coaching job at Carolina, where he went 6-6 as an interim coach last season, just missing a division title. The Panthers instead chose Frank Reich, whom they fired in the middle of a 2-15 season, the worst record in the NFL this year. 

Wilks interviewed this cycle for head-coaching jobs with the Chargers and Falcons but was passed over again. He…


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Publish date : 2024-02-07 17:05:00

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