49ers DC Steve Wilks thinks gameday relocation is being overblown

Nov 9, 2023, 8:38 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2023, 8:21 am

Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks of the San Francisco 49ers before the game against the Pittsburgh...

Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers are coming off of their Bye week with a few changes, one of them being Steve Wilks moving down from the booth to the sideline for Week 10. But according to him, the situation is being taken the wrong way.

The 49ers defensive coordinator was asked about what led up to the decision to make the move this week. While he didn’t relay any specifics regarding his conversation with coach Kyle Shanahan, Wilks believes this shouldn’t have been the major talking point it has been around the NFL, only doing so for better communication on game days.

“Just very candidly, I think we’re making a bigger deal out of it than it needs to be,” Steve Wilks said Thursday. “I just want to be able to communicate with the guys during the game a little bit more. Certain things that I’m seeing, I’d rather be able to talk to them directly than communicate with coaches.”

Communication has seemed to be an issue for the 49ers defense recently, giving up 400 or more yards in two of the last three contests. Additionally, San Francisco is used to a different scheme than the one Wilks runs, more so forced on zone-based defense.

That can cause some confusion for everyone involved, from the polars to the coaching staff. Now ranked in the bottom five in a few defensive metrics, the coordinator is looking to add streamlined coaching moving forward.

“I want to talk to all the guys,” Wilks stated. “I have certain thoughts that are going through my mind as I’m sitting here going through the game and trying to call things and I’m looking through my call sheet and I’m saying, ‘I’m thinking about this.’ Now, I can go right over to the D-line and say, ‘OK, I’m looking to change this up next series.’ It could be with the back seven as far as the pass concepts and we’re getting hurt on a certain route…Again, it’s just a little more dialogue coming directly from me.”

The Red & Gold’s defense seems to be missing more than just communication, however.

San Francisco has looked like a shell of themselves in the last three games. In fact, the 49ers have missed 32 total tackles since Week 6 in Cleveland. The three weeks prior: Nine total. It’s as if their swarm mentality had wandered off in recent games, something that the defensive coordinator can revitalize when he’s alongside the players.

But Steve Wilks doesn’t think that’s the defense’s problem, focused on fixing the communication first.

“I don’t think that’s part of what they’re missing and what they need. Sometimes it can be good. I think we all feed off each other, coaches, we feed off one another. I feed off the players. So, it depends. But, I think it’s more or less in the communication part that we can have that dialogue, direct face-to-face and try to make the adjustment that we need to make throughout the game,” the explained.

Then, maybe his assistant coaches aren’t delivering the message he wants on the sidelines. Possible, but not for Wilks, steadfast that only his coaching chops have been lacking.

“No, none whatsoever. Again, the coaches do a tremendous job in communicating with those guys. I just felt the need to be able to want to communicate directly, nothing with the coaches have been doing,” Wilks added. “Like I said before, doing a great job. I just want to feel a little bit more presence on the sideline.” 

And as for all the ridicule and criticism he’s received the last month, Wilks gets it. He knows it comes with the territory. One minute you’re king of the hill at 5-0; next you’re 5-3 and people are calling for your job.

That doesn’t bother him, he is confident in his abilities grown over a 25-plus-year coaching career.

“I can honestly say I’m sort of built for this,” Steve Wilks stated. “Not in an arrogant way but I’ve always believed there’s two things: There’s what you hear and what you listen to. I hear a lot of the outside noise and I don’t listen to it, good or bad…I’ve seen this, I’ve been around this, I can take it. I’m the new guy here. It is what it is. I have confidence in myself, most importantly I have confidence in those players and the coaches that we’re together and we are going to come through this.”

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Sunday, November 12th @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 10:00 AM PST
  • Sunday, November 19th vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 1:05 PM PST
  • Thursday, November 23rd @ Seattle Seahawks – 5:20 PM PST
  • Sunday, December 3rd @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1:25 PM PST
  • Sunday, December 10th vs. Seattle Seahawks – 1:05 PM PST

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