Steve Wilks

Former NFL executive on why ‘shocking' decision to fire Steve Wilks likely happened before the Super Bowl

Mike Tannenbaum weighed in on the firing and said the move was utterly “shocking.”

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There was no love for former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks after Super Bowl LVIII when head coach Kyle Shanahan dismissed him after one year on the job.

The firing came a day after the 49ers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 25-22 in overtime.

NFL Front Office Insider Mike Tannenbaum weighed in on the situation on the Dan Patrick Show earlier this week, calling San Francisco decision to part ways with Wilks “shocking” and noting that the choice might have been made before the game kicked off in Las Vegas.

“Obviously it had much more to do than what we saw on Sunday [Super Bowl LVIII] because we could go back over the game and there were at least a dozen different plays where had it gone differently [49ers win Super Bowl LVIII],” Tannenbaum said on the Dan Patrick Show.

Shanahan said at a press conference on Tuesday that he expected all of the team’s coaches, including defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, back for the 2024 season. But that all changed on Wednesday afternoon when a conference call was scheduled. 

“Something must have happened either philosophically or otherwise,” Tannenbaum said. "I got to think this decision was made before the game because again, this game was too close and we could have a real argument that the defense played outstanding, especially in the first half.”

Wilks was hired after DeMeco Ryans left the team to become the Texans head coach last year.

Shanahan, who said that Wilks wasn’t the right fit for what the team would like to achieve defensively, said the franchise will keep an eye on in-house and external candidates to take over as the new defensive coordinator. 

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 58 after going to just the second-ever overtime in a Super Bowl.

“If I’m a viable candidate with options and I see a guy take a team into overtime against Patrick Mahomes and get fired, I'm going to pause before coming on board,” Tannenbaum said about future candidates joining the squad. 

In Wilks' first year as defensive coordinator in the Bay Area, 49ers finished the year in third for points allowed and eighth in yards allowed during the regular season.

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