Former Carolina Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks has reportedly been hired by the San Francisco 49ers as their new defensive coordinator, sources with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero on Tuesday (February 7).
Wilks, who also served as the Arizona Cardinals' head coach during the 2018 season, will replace former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who accepted the Houston Texans' head coaching position last week after succeeding Robert Saleh, who left San Francisco to accept the head coaching position with the New York Jets in 2021.
"The last two #49ers DCs have ended up as head coaches — Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans," Rapoport tweeted. "Will Steve Wilks be next?"
Wilks took over as the Panthers' interim coach following the termination of former head coach Matt Rhule on October 10, 2022, having previously served as the team's defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach prior to his promotion. The 53-year-old went 6-6 as the Panthers' interim, making a late-season push after the team started the season with a 1-4 record through its first five games.
Wilks went 3-13 during his lone season as an NFL head coach for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. The Charlotte native had previously worked as a Panthers assistant from 2012 to 2017 prior to his stint with the Cardinals and returned to Carolina this past offseason.