Steve Wilks

Shanahan addresses Wilks' future as 49ers DC after up-and-down season

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SANTA CLARA — Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks appears to be in line to return for his second season on the job, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan intimated on Tuesday.

When asked directly whether Wilks will remain in charge of the 49ers’ defense, Shanahan answered, “I haven’t talked to anybody yet, so, yeah, I expect all our coaches to be back.”

The 49ers’ defense had an up-and-down season under Wilks, whom Shanahan hired last offseason. Wilks became available after the Carolina Panthers hired since-fired Frank Reich as head coach following Wilks’ successful stint as the team’s interim head coach to end the 2022 NFL season.

During the bye week that came with the 49ers earning the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, Wilks interviewed for head-coaching positions with the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers. Those jobs went to Raheem Morris and Jim Harbaugh, respectively.

The 49ers ranked third in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 17.5 points per game. The 49ers were eighth-best in yards allowed at 303.9 total yards per game. They were the only team in the NFL to have more interceptions (22) than touchdown passes allowed (20).

“I thought they were one of the reasons that we got this far,” Shanahan said of the 49ers’ defense. “They did a number of good things, and they did a lot of good things in this game, too, just like our whole team. The team did a lot of good things this year, but we came up short in the last game.”

The 49ers’ defense held Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense to just 19 points in regulation before the Chiefs pulled out the 25-22 overtime victory in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday in Las Vegas.

The only touchdown the 49ers allowed during regulation came one play after Kansas City recovered a muffed punt and scored on Mahomes’ 16-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

While stopping far short of declaring Wilks will remain on the coaching staff, Shanahan seemed to suggest his intention of running it back for at least another season.

“That’s stuff we’ll talk about a ton as this week goes,” Shanahan said. “We’ll talk a ton in the offseason about where we want our team to be, our defense, our offense, special teams. “That’s a lot of conversations, a lot of film, a lot of personnel and salary-cap things we got to discuss . . . draft. So I haven’t even watched the [Super Bowl] game, yet, to tell you the truth.”

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