New 49ers coordinator Steve Wilks should attract these 5 free agents

Head coach Steve Wilks of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Head coach Steve Wilks of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /
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The 49ers are bringing aboard former Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks, and the new defensive coordinator will attract players in NFL free agency.

It’s going to be awfully tough for the San Francisco 49ers to replicate the same kind of defensive prowess they enjoyed under now-Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans over the course of the 2022 season.

After all, considering the Niners owned the No. 1 defense in the league, there’s only one direction to go, and it’s in the downward direction.

Ryans is off to Houston but leaves a still-elite defense in the Bay Area that’ll remain almost entirely intact from last year’s playoff squad.

So, understandably, new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks should be thrilled at the situation he’s entering.

Related Story: 49ers make splash hire, bring aboard Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator

Wilks won’t need to usher in too many changes or upgrades, but he’d likely prefer to onboard a handful of players who are becoming available in NFL free agency later this offseason, especially those from his latest employer, the Carolina Panthers, whom he led as an interim head coach over the second half of 2022.

Particularly these five.

NFL free agency: Steve Wilks can bring safety Sean Chandler over to 49ers

San Francisco is poised to experience some notable changes in its secondary despite Wilks’ arrival, especially if veteran Jimmie Ward departs in free agency and/or Tashaun Gipson elects to retire, which he’s strongly considering.

Finding a starting option is smart, yes, and it’d sound like a job for backup safety Tavarius Moore, right?

Except Moore is also poised to hit free agency, too, and the 49ers aren’t likely to re-sign him.

The Niners need depth options to beef up whoever winds up starting at safety this season, and one player who can both act as a backup and a spot starter is Sean Chandler, who spent the last two years in Carolina and served primarily as a special teams ace last season.

Chandler, who’ll turn 27 years old before the start of the 2023 season, had 19 tackles over 17 games played last season.

Even better, he’d arrive in San Francisco on the cheap.