Falcons to interview 49ers DC for head coaching job

NFL: DEC 24 Lions at Panthers

It took a few days, but the Atlanta Falcons have finally begun submitting interview requests for their head coaching vacancy. It began with a trio of head coaches — Baltimore’s DL coach Anthony Weaver, Lions DC Aaron Glenn, and Lions OC Ben Johnson. 

Baltimore’s defense has been the top unit in the league this season, led by their defensive line that has the most sacks in the league and has allowed the fewest amount of rushing touchdowns. Defensive line coaches don’t typically jump right into the head coach hiring pool, but Weaver has been around the league for a minute, working with some of the biggest names in the business. We’ve also seen this kind of hires work recently, as Dan Campbell, who was with Terry Fontenot in New Orleans, made the jump from tight ends coach to the head coach of the Lions.

Which brings us to the two candidates the Falcons have requested to interview out of Detroit. Aaron Glenn was with Dan Campbell and Terry Fontenot in New Orleans, where he was the defensive backs coach. When Campbell departed for the Lions job, he took Glenn with him to be his defensive coordinator. Ben Johnson is the Lions offensive coordinator and has blossomed into one of the top head coaching candidates on the market. Everyone is looking for the next Kyle Shanahan, and many believe Johnson could be that guy. Expect him to land a job as a head coach this cycle.

Those are just the initial candidates, along with Bill Belichick, as the Falcons intend to cast a wide net. Most recently, Mike Garafolo reports that the Falcons have also submitted a request to interview 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

On the defensive side of the ball, Steve Wilks will be one of the hottest commodities this hiring cycle. He’s been around the league for two decades, beginning with the Chicago Bears in 2006, but he really made a name for himself as the defensive backs coach and eventual defensive coordinator in Carolina under Ron Rivera.

From there, Steve Wilks was hired to be the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, but he wasn’t given much of a chance to succeed. The Cardinals roster wasn’t built for success and he was fired after just one season. Wilks would return to Carolina in 2022 under Matt Rhule and was named the interim head coach after Rhule was fired. He had a lot of success in the position, and some believed he could keep the job, but David Tepper opted to hire Frank Reich to help mentor #1 overall pick Bryce Young, which turned out to be a disaster.

That led to Steve Wilks being named the defensive coordinator of the 49ers, who currently sport one of the best defenses in the league. He’s deserving of another head coaching job, one where he’s given time to succeed; we’ll see if Atlanta seriously considers him for the position.

Photo: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire


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