San Francisco 49ers decision to fire Steve Wilks is an excuse for blown Super Bowl LVIII Lead

Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Losing in the Super Bowl can damage an ego. Success from earlier in the season becomes irrelevant, and the most recent loss overshadows any growth from the campaign. Kyle Shanahan’s unit understands this feeling better than most. A loss in Super Bowl LVIII forced the front office to evaluate the coaching staff - resulting in significant changes to begin the off-season. Steve Wilks was the first man to receive the news of the San Francisco 49ers’ new train of thought.

Did the San Francisco 49ers fire Steve Wilks prematurely?

The San Francisco 49ers made significant changes after the 2023 NFL Season

If there’s a recipe for success in the regular season, Shanahan’s group holds the formula. They earned a respected reputation for their performances throughout the years. Success throughout the 2023 campaign cemented San Francisco as an established unit of the NFC. Contributions from Brock Purdy and his peers kept the 49ers above water this season. The former seventh-round pick ranked fifth in passing yards (4,280) and third in touchdown passes (31). Brandon Aiyuk (1,342) and George Kittle (1,020) became reliable targets and helped Mr. Irrelevant develop in his second year.

Progression and experience helped Purdy improve on the gridiron at a vital time. DeMeco Ryans left the franchise to begin his coaching career in Houston. It worried fans who marveled at his work during his tenure. In 2022, the 49ers ranked second in defensive grading (84.1) and fourth against the run (82) and pass (87.1). San Francisco emerged as one of the most disciplined defenses in the league. Ryans' new voyage created an opportunity for Steve Wilks to maintain expectations. He thrived in his first year as defensive coordinator and helped the 49ers succeed.

Steve Wilks had a great season with the San Francisco 49ers

A trip to Super Bowl LVIII was contingent on an efficient team effort. The San Francisco 49ers made the most of their regular season journey - solidifying top seeding in the NFC Conference bracket. It was not easy, but the group experienced success. Victories against the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Los Angeles Rams helped San Francisco begin the 2023 campaign with a five-game winning streak. Inconsistencies on offense cost the 49ers during the October. They lost three consecutive games - negating hard work from the previous month.

When San Francisco needed a morale boost, their defense answered the call. They were the strength of Shanahan’s team and kept post-season aspirations alive. A 34-3 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars ended the longest losing streak of the season (3). Steve Wilks' defense created four turnovers and kept points off the scoreboard. Momentum from a thirty-point win was the catalyst for a six-game winning streak. The 49ers became the hottest team in the NFC and relied on their defense to limit opposing offenses.

The San Francisco 49ers had a productive year. They proved they were the best team in the Conference and experienced success during the regular season. The defense was the strength of Kyle Shanahan’s unit. Without Steve Wilks who knows where the Niners would have finished the campaign? In 2023, San Francisco ranked second in defensive grading (89.9), third in coverage (92.1), and tenth against the run (68.4).

The decision to fire Steve Wilks after a successful season is an odd move. Kyle Shanahan expressed his feelings towards the team’s latest decision in a press conference shortly after the news broke. San Francisco’s Head Coach stated it was a “tough decision” and “says nothing about Steve as a man or a football coach.” The 49ers must work diligently in the off-season to ensure their decision was the right move and not a reaction to a loss in Super Bowl LVIII.

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