Steve Wilks unbothered by lingering Bosa holdout ‘not in my pay grade’
Aug 21, 2023, 3:27 PM | Updated: 3:40 pm
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
It’s been almost a month since the start of training camp for the 49ers, and still no sign of star pass rusher Nick Bosa. But when asked about it Monday, his new defensive coordinator, Steve Wilks, hasn’t spent much time thinking about it.
San Francisco’s new DC has been focused on the defensive players currently in the building, not the ones who aren’t. Even though Bosa will eventually serve as a key cog in his defense, the long-time coordinator isn’t worried about contract talks in the slightest.
“Not in my pay grade, so I don’t bring it up,” Steve Wilks said bluntly after practice Monday.
Many outside the organization had predicted the Ohio State alum would be with the team by now. Less than three weeks away from their Week 1 clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bosa’s absence definitely has fans and media worried about the contract dispute. Many are also worried that the pass rusher won’t be in game shape without some time on the field in the preseason.
That isn’t the case for Steve Wilks.
“You guys have been around longer than I have, and I’ve seen from afar. I think he’ll be fine when he gets here,” Wilks said calmly about Bosa.
For now, it’s about improving each day with the players he has present.
Along the defensive line, Wilks has another beast in newcomer Javon Hargrave. The eight-year vet has impressed his counterparts during training camp sessions, to the point that the big man will likely see very little playing time in Friday’s showdown with the Chargers.
But the former Philadelphia Eagle did play Saturday against Denver, coming up with a crucial stop on quarterback Russell Wilson to drop him before the line-to-gain.
“I think he’s everything that we saw on tape, everything that he’s been in this league the last couple of years. A dominant force up front, it’s gonna be hard for [offenses] to single block him,” Wilks said about Hargrave.
The defensive coordinator also left Week 2 of the preseason with strong impressions of defensive tackles T.Y. McGill and Marlon Davidson.
Steve Wilks' standouts from Saturday:
* DL T.Y. McGill
* DL Marlon Davidson
* MLB Jalen Graham
* S Ji'Ayir Brown.
He noted that Brown's goal-line tackle really bailed out the defense following a bust in coverage.
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) August 21, 2023
Both players stood out in a big way against the Broncos, each of them coming up with a sack. The former ended the game with three combined tackles and one sack, while the latter had two tackles, plus a sack, to his name.
Going to the middle of the park, Wilks left Week 2 impressed with rookie linebacker Jalen Graham once again.
The Purdue alum was all over the field as the MIKE LB Saturday, commanding his unit with poise and confidence throughout. He finished with two tackles and a forced fumble that was recovered by Denver. While the stats don’t seem like much, Graham’s play on the field resonates with many members of the coaching staff.
“Jalen continues to stand out for us, doing a great job. Playing the [MIKE role], great job communicating, getting everybody aligned. The physicality continues to show up each and every week playing downhill,” Wilks said about the rookie LB.
The big question mark that still remains is in the secondary, specifically at the nickelback position.
The 49ers brought in veteran cornerback Isaiah Oliver to hold down the role for 2023. But so far, he’s done anything but that, allowing San Francisco to hold an open competition for the spot.
When asked about it Monday, Wilks was very candid on the matter. The secondary specialist seems to prefer the depth and flexibility this squad has across the board, especially at cornerback. Because of that, the veteran coordinator could use different players based on the personnel of the opposition.
While also stating that Oliver remains in the running.
“We’re very pleased with where Oliver is. We brought him in for a reason.. This league is all about matchups…To have the options that we have is a luxury…With the matchups that we face, Oliver may be in there. [CB Deommodore Lenoir] may be in there. It all depends on the matchups that we face,” Steve Wilks explained.
49ers DC Steve Wilks says that he won't want to put Lenoir against TEs, but that he may want to run nickel against 12 personnel — which is where Isaiah Oliver's bigger body might come in.
Wilks: "There's teams that don't have this flexibility. I think it's a luxury."
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) August 21, 2023