Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks

Press Conference – August 11, 2023

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center


Opening Statement:

“I must say the last two days have been very competitive. Great opportunity for us to be able to have this chance to go against someone else. We’ve been hitting each other for a while. I thought the competition was great. Looking forward to the game on Sunday. Unfortunate, [Las Vegas Raiders WR Davante] Adams went down. I really thought it was just a bang-bang hit. Definitely nothing intentional and definitely hoping that he has a speedy recovery because he’s definitely one of the top players in this league. So, I want to see him out there performing and doing his thing. And with that, I’ll take your questions.”


Your ones got a lot of action today. Does that signal that they’re not going to play on Sunday?

“Well, that’s not a question for me. That’s definitely something for [Head Coach] Kyle [Shanahan]. He’s going to control the rep count. But you’re right. I thought our guys got quality work today. I was happy to see them out there flying around doing some things, situational, two-minute, red zone. We got a lot of work in. The heat must be getting to you guys [laughs].”


How has DT Javon Kinlaw come along now that you kind of evaluated him a little bit better going against another team?

“I thought it was great. I thought he had some great plays this week. Again, very explosive coming off the ball. Thought he did a great job with his stunts inside. I talked about that last night with the two-man games inside. So, he’s executing the game plan.”


Is he learning from DL Javon Hargrave at all? Because Hargrave seems like he’s living up to everything now.

“I think they feed off one another. Even [DL] Kevin Givens, all those guys inside are working their tails off. So very pleased right now where we are. And looking forward to seeing these guys playing the game.”


DL Clelin Ferrell came back to his previous team. Did he seem like he was phased this week?

“No, no, not at all. Just another week at work. I know it’s something special to him, so hopefully he goes out and performs well on Sunday.”


How has he been during this whole training camp?

“He’s been great. I think he’s one of the guys that I talk to [Defensive Line Coach Kris] Kocurek about it all the time. Just his attention to detail, his urgency that he practices with each and every day. He only has one motor. That’s one thing I love about him.”


Do you feel like guys that maybe haven’t had as much success in their first team come to the second team and have a little extra sense of urgency?

“Sometimes that’s the case. I think they have an opportunity for the light bulb to come on. That culture shock coming out of college, being a first-round draft pick, not succeeding where you are, and then really trying to relish the second opportunity. So, I think that’s where he is right now.”


How are LB Dee Winters and then LB Jalen Graham, your two rookie linebackers coming along?

“I think they’re coming along pretty good and it’s going to be, once again, a great opportunity to see those guys play. They’re going to get a lot of reps on Sunday, so hopefully they can go out there and communicate and execute.”


Graham didn’t play middle linebacker at all in college and he’s been playing that all of camp. Are you starting to think that could be his future position on this team?

“Well, we have a lot of versatility inside and we see him being able to play all three. And trying to focus on MIKE a little bit, to get him to communicate and talk. He’s done an excellent job. Coming out of college, as I mentioned before, he was out in the slot a lot. We saw his skill set he could cover, very fast, can run. But I’m loving his physicality and playing downhill.”


You’ve got some tall guys playing that middle linebacker spot. What does, kind of length give you in this system at that MIKE position?

“Length to me, sort of compensates speed sometimes. Just being in position. You saw a couple of plays one time, [LB] Fred [Warner] in practice being able to knock the ball down, coming down the seam. I see Jalen having that same opportunity just because of his length.”


Are preseason games the only opportunity to evaluate tackling because it’s live or do you have other ways to be able to kind of gauge that in these practices?

“Well, we emphasize it each and every day in how we finish, tracking the near hip. But you’re not going to get a true pitcher until you get in the game. And when guys are really trying not just to ease up, they’re trying to run through you because they’re trying to make the team as well. So, it’s going to be interesting to see.”


You mentioned the heat. How did you see it affect everybody today, if at all?

“I thought the heat yesterday was very mild. It warmed up a little bit today, but I thought our guys fought through it.”


Is it helpful to practice in the heat even though it’s not something you have to do?

“I just think it’s a mindset. Of course we’re going to play indoors this week, but it’s just trying to stimulate the mind to fight through certain things.”


How would you assess what you have seen from CB Samuel Womack III with him stacking the plays during camp?

“I think he’s progressed since OTAs. I think he’s doing some great things. Yes, he is making plays out there. I wish he would’ve made that one down on the goal line, just being inside leverage and using the sideline. But you’ve seen him throughout camp, and you also saw him this week, the last two days, he’s stepping up. So, looking forward to him having a great game.”


In Pittsburgh Javon Hargrave played in the front. Then he goes to Philadelphia and plays in the four, three. How much is that a benefit for you having a player able to play in multiple ways?

“Well, I think really you have to hone in just with him being an inside guy. And yes, three, four, he’s more zero, two gap, when we’re trying to get on the edge and get vertical. So, he’s shown that ability. What I’m really impressed with him about is just the ability to rush the passer. You think about just him stopping the run, but he has some quickness and some speed to really rush the passer. So, I’m excited about that.”


You’ve got experience watching RB Christian McCaffrey in training camp before, so I’m curious what you see out of him this year and how hard he’s worked?

“I just try to use one word, consistent. That’s who he is. He’s very consistent in dedicating himself to his craft. He comes out each and every day, does the same thing. So, I’m excited that he’s here. I’m excited that I’m here as well.”


CB D’Shawn Jamison has had success during training camp. Are you curious to see how he responds to an actual game as the next test?

“I think you’re right, that is the key, the next test. He’s done it against us. He made some plays out here this week, but in a game-like situation, will he step up? So, I think he will, but hopefully he’ll show up because he has done some great things for us.”


When you have a guy who’s getting a lot of love as a rookie, do you have to gauge, I’m not saying he is, but do you have to make sure he has the same urgency?

“The one thing that we create around here, and it starts with Kyle and [General Manager] John [Lynch], we don’t get comfortable. So even the starters, even the vets. So, I think he’s more than understanding that he needs to keep his foot on the gas.”