The 49ers have funneled many a coordinator into a head-coaching gig, and it appears Steve Wilks could be next in the pipeline.
It certainly is beneficial to be a San Francisco 49ers coordinator.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan's coaching tree had turned out plenty of head coaches in recent years, such as the New York Jets' Robert Saleh, the Miami Dolphins' Mike McDaniel and the Houston Texans' DeMeco Ryans.
Ryans, who left after the 2022 season, opened up the door for the Niners to hire former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator and interim head coach Steve Wilks to fill their defensive coordinator job. And while Wilks has plenty of head-coaching experience, including a stay with the Arizona Cardinals, it certainly helped to join the Shanahan tree as an outside hire last offseason.
Even though Wilks was briefly under the microscope during San Francisco's three-game losing streak earlier this season.
All told, though, Wilks helped lead a 49ers defense that finished third best in points allowed (298), fifth best in takeaways (28) and tops in interceptions (22), albeit it certainly helped that Wilks' side of the ball was chock full of talent.
Steve Wilks reportedly draws interest from Chargers for head-coaching gig
The Los Angeles Chargers were supposed to have a defensive mastermind in head coach Brandon Staley, whom they fired earlier this season after a 63-21 walloping at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Staley and general manager Tom Telesco were both dismissed, and the Bolts finished the year 5-12 and with the ninth-worst scoring defense during the regular season.
With some modest defensive pieces in place, including Pro Bowl edge Joey Bosa, a defensive-minded head coach wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, and it appears as if Los Angeles would consider onboarding Wilks as a full-time replacement for Staley.
At least according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, who reported as much Monday afternoon following the conclusion of the regular season:
Should Wilks depart for LA, the Niners would have to turn to a third defensive coordinator in four years, although given the talent level on that side of the ball, it'd likely be an attractive job.
Additionally, San Francisco wouldn't be rewarded with another third-round compensatory pick because of the Rooney Rule, which rewards teams that help develop minority assistants that wind up turning into head coach or general manager roles elsewhere.
In this case, the coach would have to be employed for at least two years, and Wilks is still wrapping up year one with the red and gold.
Meanwhile, though, Wilks and the 49ers have to concern themselves for what they hope will be a lengthy playoff push that runs into the Super Bowl this February.