SF 49ers: 4 potential replacements for Robert Saleh in 2021
SF 49ers Candidate No. 4: Wade Phillips
It’s for that reason mentioned above, the issue with the fronts themselves, former LA Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips won’t be the selection.
However, given his ability and stature, he certainly has to be considered.
Phillips has run good to great defenses, with his work with the Denver Broncos and his work with the Rams and defensive tackle Aaron Donald his most recent escapades. A Phillips defense is typically always going to be a strong one, and with the talent on the current roster, the SF 49ers would likely have the same situation.
However, Phillips runs a 3-4 defense, which means EDGEs like Nick Bosa have to play in a two-point stance for starters (so they don’t keep a hand in the dirt), and additionally, they end up playing coverage on base downs at times, which is a less-than-ideal situation for Bosa and for the SF 49ers. Additionally, a 3-4 front cannot mesh with the Wide 9 preached by Kris Kocurek, which would mean the Niners loud but very good defensive line coach would be likely gone. Although the Wide 9 by itself has some issues, Kocurek has proven himself capable of developing the Niners defensive line, and having him around would be a major bonus.
While players like Arik Armstead are actually 3-4 defensive ends being put as 4-3 defensive tackles in the new system, overall, the SF 49ers front is built for a 4-3. And although Phillips might be a defensive mastermind, it’s not worth undermining player development for the sake of a schematic change.
That said, a coach of his caliber is always worth the call.