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San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks Got multiple Blame for Losing Super Bowl LVIII, Even Though He Shouldn’t Have

Feb 20, 2024 #49ers, #NFL

Andscape’s William C. Rhoden recently published a powerful article detailing how Wilks’ firing and, frankly, all the times he was fired or ignored during his career, highlights the inequality facing African Americans and others are confronted. Minority coaches still face problems in the NFL. Today:

Wilks was healthy enough to help San Francisco win the Super Bowl a year after the 49ers were eliminated in the NFC title game. Wilks was healthy enough to keep the 49ers as one of the best defensive units in the NFL. “I’m not sure which annoys me more: that the 54-year-old Wilks, respected around the league as an exceptional and pragmatic defensive mind, once again got a tough deal, or that the 44-year-old It was old Shanahan who fired him.

“Black coaches in the NFL have always had a shorter leash than their white counterparts. Just this season, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni fired his two black coordinators to explain the Eagles’ late-season collapse.

Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, credited with the development of Jalen Hurts when he was the Eagles’ quarterback coach, was fired at the end of the season. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai was relieved of playcalling duties mid-season and was also fired after the season.


The above instances are just from this year. However, as Rhoden points out, Wilks has been on the receiving end of several quick firings during the coarse of his coaching career. These include:

• One season as the Arizona Cardinals head coach (fired after a 3-13 record)

• One season as the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator (fired along with head coach Freddie Kitchens)

• After finishing 6-6 as interim head coach of the Carolina Panthers, Wilks was passed over in favor of Frank Reich

• Now fired after one year as the 49ers defensive coordinator despite having a top-10 defense

Now, Rhoden does start out his article by saying that players being cut and coaches being fired is the nature of the NFL. However, what is concerning is when minority coaches are not given the same chance to make a difference over the course of several seasons:

“According to an exhaustive 2022 investigation by the Washington Post, Black coaches face a narrower set of opportunities than their white counterparts to get top coaching jobs, have to serve longer as assistants, are more likely to get interim jobs than full-time jobs and are held to higher standards when it comes to keeping those jobs. According to the Post, from 1990 until 2022, Black coaches, ‘have been twice as likely as others to be fired after leading a team to a regular-season record of .500 or better.’

“Shanahan knows little about that kind of grind. As the son of former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan, Kyle was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He had to stand in line, but the line he stood in was much shorter.

“Kyle Shanahan was 29 years old when he got his first offensive coordinator’s job.

“Wilks didn’t get his first job as a coordinator until he was 48.”

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