Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks

­­Press Conference – November 21, 2023

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“Normally I’d start out by saying we had a great practice today, but we haven’t gone out yet. So, guys are focused, guys are locked in, short week. It’s all about fundamentals and technique. The great thing about playing Tampa last week, there’s a lot of carryover to Seattle with the coordinator being from Seattle. So, a lot of things that we’re doing this week is carryover for us. And my point of emphasis to the players has been fundamentals and technique and a short week, taking care of your body, making sure we’re fresh and ready to go. So with that, I’ll take your questions.”

When you prepare for a team like this where the 49ers are so familiar with Seattle, do you rely on people who’ve been here to say what’s worked in the past, what hasn’t worked? Do you start kind of gauging the room as far as just what your first steps are when you implement the gameplan?

“Yeah, yeah. I think you always do that. Anytime you have a team that plays one another twice, I think you have a perspective of who they are and what they do. You know, we played Seattle last year when I was in Carolina, but being able to play these guys twice a year, they understand you, you understand them, you understand personnel. So, we definitely talked as a staff and have gone back and looked at some of the things that we’ve done well, some of the things that hurt us, and so therefore we can anticipate what may be to come.”

How’d you feel about the way S Ji’Ayir Brown played last week and this is his first start, what do you want to see from him this week in preparation for Seattle?

“Well, I, first of all, want to acknowledge the mere fact, well [S Talanoa Hufanga] Huf, a captain, when I say a captain, I’m talking about a leader in the secondary, All-Pro player, we’re definitely going to miss him. And for Ji’Ayir to step in at that particular time in the game and perform the way he did, it’s exciting. But, he and I talked last week and his preparation each and every day you can see the growth from when he got here back in the spring. He’s playing with a great level of confidence, and I think the guys back there with [S Tashaun Gipson Sr.] Gip, [LB] Fred [Warner] and all the guys that he’s going to be surrounded with, I think he’s going to be fine.”

You talked to him before the Tampa game?

“Yes. We talk every week. I always talk to those young guys and just trying to give them a beat on where I feel they are in their progression and how they’re doing. And he and [LB] Dee Winters I think have made major strides since they’ve been here and guys that we feel very confident in the situation if they had to go in. Unfortunately, he did that they were going to step up and perform.”

On the play where he did get beat, Ji’Ayir, was he not accounting for the wide receiver’s speed or what was the, I guess, what’s your coaching point to him on that play?

“Initially, I think he saw [Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike] Evans looking back for the ball because it was all out pressure, so he assumed that it was coming quick. And it was really an out and up. So, he was able to recover just from being as athletic as he is and put himself in a great position to make a play on the ball.”


He seems to speak with a wisdom beyond his years. What’s been your impression of just how he carries himself?

“I just think he’s serious about the game and he puts a lot of time and effort into it. We met as a staff today defensively early and you know, [defensive backs coach] Daniel Bullocks wasn’t in there because he was meeting with him. He wanted to come in and get some extra work. So, Daniel does a great job with all those guys.”

How important or unimportant are sacks in evaluating the effectiveness and performance of an edge dresser like DL Nick Bosa?

“I’ve dealt with this all year in regard to lack of production out of our front. And I tell people all the time, you have to really watch tape and understand football. It’s a combination of things, but most importantly you have to complement one another. We have probably one of the highest percentages as far as pressure and hits on the quarterback, and there’s times you don’t see that effect for us getting sacks because there’s certain things that go along with that. But, as you saw this past week, we were able to complement one another with different coverages, our disguise or even playing tight man. So, a lot of things go into that, but I’m pleased where we are. I think we’re progressing up front and doing the things we’ve got to do to get to the quarterback.”

Just how disruptive was DL Arik Armstead this week? It seemed like he was getting, even for his standards, a lot of pressure.

“I agree. I agree completely. I think when you go back and watch the tape, his one-on-ones we always talk about you’ve got to win, collapse the pocket inside and try to make the quarterback unable to follow through with his throws. And you saw [Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB] Baker [Mayfield] quite a bit of times that he could not do that. So, Arik played a great game and we’re looking for him to do it again this week.”

Seattle Seahawks RB Zach Charbonnet, the rookie from UCLA is probably going to get a lot of run in this game. What do you think of him and how is he a challenge this week?

“Well, I think all those guys are going to be a challenge, particularly on a short week. I look at their running back corps, their receiving corps, all those skill guys are phenomenal. And I think [Seattle Seahawks head coach] Pete [Carroll] does an outstanding job in his preparation of getting those guys ready to play. I know the run game is something that is a point of emphasis for those guys and trying to create themselves to be a little bit more balanced. We’ve got to do a great job in stopping the run and hopefully trying to make these guys one-dimensional to where our front can be effective on the quarterback.”