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49ers eyeing notable name to replace DeMeco Ryans

Kyle Shanahan with a headset

Sep 23, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan watches play on the sidelines during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers are moving quickly now that defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is taking his talents elsewhere.

Ryans, who was a highly in-demand candidate, officially accepted a job on Tuesday to become the head coach of an AFC team.

In the wake of the news, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported that the 49ers have requested permission to speak with Steve Wilks about their now-vacant defensive coordinator job. Wilks, who served as interim coach of the Carolina Panthers for the final 12 games of the season, is still under contract with Carolina.

The 53-year-old Wilks is a veteran defensive mind who gained much respect during his interim stint with the Panthers. He navigated the team through a turbulent time after the firing of Matt Rhule as well as the trade of Christian McCaffrey, helping Carolina go a respectable 6-6 to end the year. Wilks did not get the permanent job though as the Panthers chose to hire Frank Reich after the season instead.

There were some recent rumors about what Wilks planned to do after being passed over for the Panthers job. Now it looks like Wilks might get a great opportunity to coach an elite defense on a contending team in the 49ers.


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