Sherman suspects Wilks could lose 49ers play-calling duties

Sherman suspects Wilks could lose 49ers play-calling duties

Sherman suspects Wilks could lose 49ers play-calling duties originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

After the 49ers dropped their third straight game Sunday at Levi's Stadium, there's plenty of blame to go around for a team that seemingly has come crashing back to earth following their red-hot start to the 2023 NFL season.

Former 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman knows there are several issues currently plaguing San Francisco, but he believes there's "no question" coach Kyle Shanahan will consider one major change after the team's defensive struggles under new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

"It's definitely possible," Sherman said Monday on FS1's "Undisputed" when Skip Bayless asked if Shanahan would relieve Wilks of defensive play-calling duties. "I just don't know where it would go at this point. I don't know who [Shanahan] would give it to ... But he has to make an adjustment. You have to go back to what they have done well, because you're changing things up in a way that's putting these guys in a lot of bad situations."

Over the last three games, San Francisco's defense hardly has resembled the immovable force it's known as with All-Pros Fred Warner, Nick Bosa and Talanoa Hufanga leading the charge. The unit was carved up in back-to-back weeks by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Cincinnati Bengals star Joe Burrow, and against the Cleveland Browns, its failure to stop Cleveland Browns backup quarterback P.J. Walker kick-started the losing streak.

Sherman questioned Wilks' man coverage and gap technique decisions, specifically wondering why the new 49ers defensive coordinator isn't using San Francisco's defenders in the same ways that brought the team success in the past.

"You wonder what Steve Wilks is doing in some of these situations," Sherman said. "Why aren't Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw mugged up in the A gaps like they've been for the past three years under [former 49ers defensive coordinators] DeMeco Ryans and Robert Saleh?

"You wonder what he's doing because the blueprint was there."

The 49ers hired Wilks this offseason after Ryans left San Francisco to become head coach of the Houston Texans. Wilks last week admitted that after 17 years as a coach, he's still adjusting to doing things differently in Santa Clara, and Sherman anticipates Shanahan making changes moving forward.

"Kyle Shanahan obviously is going to get in these meetings and tell him, 'Hey, I understand you came in here with your own identity, the way you did things,' " Sherman said. " 'We're going back to the basics. We're going back to using these guys how we use them best, and that's what it is. You just drive the car that we have here.' "

After Sunday's loss to the Bengals at Levi's Stadium, which snapped an 11-game win streak at home, several 49ers defenders and Shanahan himself said a better overall team effort is needed if San Francisco wants to get back on track. And while that certainly is true, it's clear Sherman believes play-calling should be Shanahan's first stop.

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