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Head Coach Search: 5 Things to Know About 49ers DC Steve Wilks 


The Chargers on Saturday confirmed they have interviewed Steve Wilks for their head coach position.

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Here are five things to know about Wilks:

1. A top-tier defense

Wilks is in his first season as the defensive coordinator for a San Francisco team that is currently on a week off as the NFC's No. 1 seed.

His defense has been a big part of the 49ers success, allowing just 17.5 points a game that's good for lowest in their conference. The unit also is ranked in the top 10 in total yards allowed per game (303.9) and rushing yards allowed per game (89.7).

In terms of DVOA this season, San Francisco ranks fourth in the NFL and first in the NFC.

Wilks' defense was a driving force on the way to the No. 1 seed and also produced two All-Pros — linebacker Fred Warner and cornerback Charvarious Ward.

2. Former Head Coach

Wilks has seen just about everything in the NFL as a head coach, coordinator and position coach.

He spent the 2022 season as the defensive passing game coordinator & secondary coach for the Panthers before becoming the interim head coach following in-season organizational changes. Wilks spent the final 12 games in that interim position and helped Carolina finish in a tie for second in the NFC South after starting 1-4.

It wasn't his first shot as a head coach as he also spent one season as the Cardinals Head Coach in 2018. Under Wilks, Arizona would finish that season with a top 10 passing defense in the NFL.

His tenure in San Francisco is his third stint as a defensive coordinator. Wilks spent the 2017 as the coordinator in Carolina in addition to being the assistant head coach and would later serve as the defensive coordinator for one season in Cleveland in 2019.

Wilks has been in the NFL in many other capacities on the defensive side with stops in Chicago (2006 to 2008) and Carolina (2012 to 2016).

The Chargers on Saturday confirmed they have interviewed Steve Wilks for their head coach position.

3. Time with Chargers

One of Wilks' stops throughout his long coaching career came with the Chargers.

Wilks was the Bolts defensive backs coach for three seasons from 2009-2011 and coached players such as Antonio Cromartie, Quentin Jammer and Eric Weddle.

The results under Wilks were immediate as he helped the Bolts defense finish fourth in the NFL in passing defense (203.8) in his first season as the position coach.

Wilks was a driving force in the Chargers having the best passing defense (177.8 per game) in 2010. He also helped Weddle earn back-to-back All-Pro selections in 2010 and 2011.

4. Through the college ranks

Wilks began his coaching career in college and would spend 11 years there before making the move to the pros.

He began at Johnson C. Smith University in 1995 and would move on to Savannah State where he spent time as a defensive coordinator and head coach.

Wilks would then move to coach defensive backs at Illinois State University (2000), Appalachian State University (2001), Bowling Green State (2003), Notre Dame (2004) and Washington (2005).

5. App State star

Before Wilks was on the sidelines as a coach, he took the field himself as a player.

The Charlotte, North Carolina native attended Appalachian State where he was a defensive back from 1987 to 1991. He would graduate with a bachelor's degree in communications.

Wilks was part of the school's run to win the Southern Conference Championship in his first and last seasons.

He attended training camp with the Seattle Seahawks following his time at App State in 1992 then played defensive back and wide receiver for the Charlotte Rage of the Arena Football League the following year.

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