Why Stephen A believes 49ers firing Wilks a ‘bad look' for Shanahan

Why Stephen A believes 49ers firing Wilks a ‘bad look' for Shanahan originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers moving on from Steve Wilks after just one season as the team's defensive coordinator doesn't sit well with Stephen A. Smith.

The ESPN analyst ripped Kyle Shanahan on Thursday's "First Take" episode and explained why he believes the firing actually is a bad look for the head coach.

"I think it should be a bad look. I'm disgusted," Smith said. "My heart goes out to my brother Steve Wilks because he keeps getting screwed over time and time and time again. Arizona, Carolina, here he is in San Francisco. You're there for your first year -- one year -- you have the top-three-ranked defense in the National Football League."

Smith went on to say he understands that Wilks and his unit had an inconsistent showing in 2023, and concerning struggles carried over into the postseason.

The 49ers' defense was depleted against Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers and didn't look any sharper against Jared Goff and the "loaded" Detroit Lions, but San Francisco barely escaped each game with a win that ultimately led them to Super Bowl LVIII against the Kansas City Chiefs, where Smith noticed a change in the effort and intensity.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, even though Patrick Mahomes went down the field, game-tying field goal, overtime, game-winning touchdown, I think San Francisco's defense played pretty damn well," Smith argued. "I don't think anybody would deny that collectively over the course of those 60 minutes-plus of the Super Bowl, you'd expect Kansas City's offense to look a little better than it did, but Steve Wilks' defense had something to do with negating that."

Smith wanted to make it clear that he wasn't faulting Shanahan for doing his job and what he believed was best for the team, but he emphasized that he is "sick and tired" of some coaches getting certain chances that others don't.

Shanahan's three blown Super Bowl leads were one thing Smith pointed to, with all losses coming after having a double-digit lead. So after holding Mahomes and the Chiefs to under 20 points for nearly the entirety of the contest but still failing to get the job done, Smith believes Shanahan should look in the mirror and point the finger at himself.

"You've got a team that spent 57-plus minutes holding the Kansas City Chiefs to under 20 points and you still can't win a game, but Steve Wilks is out of a job, but you keep yours," Smith said. "How about you need to be better, Kyle Shanahan? How about firing yourself?"

While Smith acknowledged Shanahan is a "hell of a coach" with a great football mind, the move still rubbed him the wrong way.

Shanahan announced the firing while speaking to Bay Area reporters via conference call Wednesday.

“(It’s a) really tough decision because really it says nothing about Steve as a man or as a football coach,” Shanahan said. “He’s exactly what we wanted as a man. And he’s a great football coach.

“But just where we’re going, where we’re at with our team from a scheme standpoint and things like that. Looking through it all throughout the year and these last few days, (I) felt pretty strongly this was the decision that was best for our organization.”

The 49ers now will look internally and externally for their fifth defensive coordinator in six seasons.

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