Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks

­­Press Conference – December 28, 2023

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“The Ravens were a football team who was well deserving of winning that football game. I felt like we did some good things in that game, but we didn’t finish in the manner in which we should have on the defensive side of the ball, which is finding ways to take the ball away and give our offensive a chance. I thought we played hard. I thought we were competitive. I thought we had a good game plan. But we need to find a way to finish and make some more plays. The great thing about this league here, you don’t have time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself. It’s a constant ever evolving week, getting ready for the next opponent. Washington is a real good football team. We got the word that [Washington Commanders QB] Jacoby Brissett is going to start. He is a proven veteran in this league that has shown that he can win football games at every place that he’s been. They have a solid run game. I think [Washington Commanders RB Brian] Robinson [Jr.] is probably going to be back this week. [Washington Commanders WR Terry] McLaurin and [Washington Commanders WR] Curtis Samuel are pretty good receivers in that they can make things happen at any time. So by no way by the stretch of imagination that this is going to be an easy game for us. So, we’ve got to show up and play well and be ready to execute. And with that, I’ll take your questions.”


How do you feel just about the secondary right now because it seems like there’s some moving parts that could be based on injuries, whether to S Ji’Ayir Brown or CB Ambry Thomas?

“Well, I feel real good in regards to the guys that we have, all the way down to [CB Darrell] Luter [Jr.]. If he has to come in and play, he has definitely shown and have gotten a lot of trust from me that he can go in and execute. It’s that time of the year that we’re dealing with everything that all other 31 teams are dealing with, which are injuries. So, we can’t find any excuses in regards to that. We’ve got to show up and play.”


How has Luter established that trust with you? He hasn’t played a lot in games.
Is it the practices?

“I think it’s how he practices. I think it’s how he carries himself. He’s a professional. He is definitely a guy that’s a little bit more mature to be a rookie in how he goes about his day-to-day operation. Even when he was hurt, he was constantly here getting treatment. He stayed in there with [defensive backs coach] Daniel Bullocks, the DB coach, trying to get better. You’ve seen his development and growth. And with that, when he’s out on the field, that’s where that trust comes in with me.”


You talk a lot about his maturity since he was drafted. On the field, how do you see that’s different maybe from other rookies?

“Well, number one, I don’t think he gets rattled at all. Something good happens, he’s on to the next play. Likewise, something bad. That’s a sign of a guy that has maturity to understand that position. He doesn’t get down on himself. And going back to the play against Seattle on special teams, just that effort to be able to save that touchdown and give us the opportunity to hold those guys to a field goal. Those kind of plays and those things that he puts on tape is how I equate that trust.”


How has S Logan Ryan assimilated to the system?

“Logan has done a great job. I was excited when we got him. I knew at some point in time that he was going to do a great job in stepping in for us. His leadership there, and I talked to [LB] Fred [Warner] about this coming off the field yesterday, and I was like, ‘did you feel and see Logan?’ He’s like, ‘yeah, man, he talks.’ And that’s the great sign of a safety. His ability to communicate, particularly when you’ve got a new guy in there, and he’s stepping up and doing those things. So, I like his presence. He has skin on the wall, as I call it. He’s been around the league for a while, played in a couple Super Bowls, so he understands the magnitude of where we are at this time of the year.”


What does DL Sebastian Joseph-Day bring to your defense?

“[Defensive line coach] Kris [Kocurek] does a tremendous job, him and [assistant defensive line coach Darryl] Tapp as far as meeting with those new guys that we have in. They took him out there early, took him to the side and started really trying to change up his stance, his get off. He’s been more of a two-gap guy his whole career. And of course you all know that our mindset’s a little different. We come off the ball here. So, I like his explosion and how he comes off. He plays with violent hands, so I’m excited to have him and looking forward to seeing what he can do for us.”


You went with CB Jason Verrett over CB Samuel Womack III this week. What went into that decision? What do you want to see from Samuel Womack?

“Consistency, with all our guys. A lot too goes into special teams in regards to him being up and not being up. We wanted to give Verrett an opportunity and a chance to be able to get his feet wet, try to get back into the flow of things and seeing if he can be one of those guys that I think that can help us down the stretch here as we progress towards the playoffs.”


He had that tough play with the touchdown in the end zone, but otherwise what did you see from him on the field?

“I thought he worked within the defense. I thought his technique was good. On that one particular play, I felt like we teach chest to chest, particularly when you get in the end zone, you can’t turn away from the receiver and that’s what he did and he lost him in that split second when the ball was being thrown. So, definitely something that’s correctable and coachable.”


Do you view Verrett mainly as a nickel right now? Is that where you’re kind of using him mostly in practice?

“Right now, yes. Just for the mere fact, again, I feel very confident in Luter and you mentioned Sammy as well. So, I feel like we have some players out there that we can stack a little bit. To me it’s always that ability, if something happens with [DB Deommodore Lenoir] Demo and then [CB Isaiah] Oliver, who’s that third guy.”


What type of playing time do you anticipate with Joseph-Day having on Sunday?

“It varies. It’s something that we’ll talk about as a defensive staff. Most importantly, it’s something that I communicate and converse with [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan].”


Can LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, who played safety at Arizona, could he be your emergency safety in a situation if you need a body on gameday?

“I think Oliver’s that guy. I like Flann closer to the line of scrimmage. I think he’s more effective there. I think as we try to think ahead and I don’t know if you guys have seen it at practice, but Oliver has been really taking a lot of reps at safety the last couple of weeks. So, that would be our next step if something were to happen there.”


Back to Ryan for a second. You don’t often see 30-year-old guys lining up on the outside and going down and covering kicks. What does that say about him?

“Team player. Committed. Then also understanding it is the standard here. We always talk about many parts, one body of work. Nobody’s bigger than the actual cause. So guys come in and they adapt to how we do things and that’s what he’s done. So again, I like him a lot as a player and as a person.”