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49ers hire former Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks as new defensive coordinator 

The San Francisco 49ers have landed their next defensive coordinator.

The 49ers are hiring Steve Wilks as the team's DC, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Tuesday. Wilks replaces DeMeco Ryans, whom the Texans hired as their next head coach on Jan. 31.

Wilks started last season as the Carolina Panthers' passing game coordinator and secondary coach on head coach Matt Rhule's staff before taking over as interim head coach after Rhule was fired on Oct. 11.

Wilks, 53, led the Panthers to a 6-6 record down the stretch, nearly vaulting Carolina into a shocking playoff position. Following the season, Wilks interviewed for the Panthers' head-coaching job, which eventually went to former Colts head coach Frank Reich.

Wilks has been a defensive coordinator several times previously at various levels of college football, in 2017 with the Panthers and in 2019 with the Cleveland Browns. He also previously was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, going 3-13.

Wilks has said he wants to be a head coach again, and this position might be the perfect springboard for another shot. The past two 49ers' defensive coordinators, Robert Saleh and Ryans, are now NFL head coaches.

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