Just days following the Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator, Steve Wilks was relieved of his duties. Now it is time to look for a new coordinator, and attempt to pick up where they left off. The San Francisco defense did well stopping Patrick Mahomes in the big game, but there were still numerous issues throughout that season. Whatever the reasons he was let go, it is now time to look at who the next 49ers coordinator will be.

49ers Defensive Coordinator Watchlist

These are a list of names either mentioned briefly or really would make a good fit. As of writing this, there are some rumors, but not from the team as much as what others around the league believe. At the end of the day, only one of these names will get the job, or none on this list of names at all. What is known is that the head coach, Kyle Shanahan, will look at both potential inside hires and others. Most likely one who can work well coaching linebackers, as that has been what worked best for the organization in recent years.

Mike Vrabel

If the 49ers can bring in Mike Vrabel as their Defensive Coordinator, he would make a really good fit. Vrabel is a coach that many believe should not have been fired this season, and was believed to be going to the Patriots. As that is not happening, he does not currently have a job. Vrabel would make a good fit as the 49ers Defensive Coordinator. Who knows, maybe if Vrabel joins he can find a way for linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair to return to the 49ers for a little cheaper of a deal.

Vrabel’s coaching career began with the Houston Texans as a linebackers coach, then he became the team’s Defensive Coordinator in 2017. After one season as a Defensive Coordinator, he became the Titans’ head coach. This will be a name to keep an eye on for the future 49ers Defensive Coordinator.

49ers Defensive Coordinator

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick – Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick

This is a pick is one that 49ers fans can wish for, but it is not realistic. Truthfully, Bill Belichick is only on this list to acknowledge the slightest of slight chances. Belichick is extremely defensive-minded and even has the linebacker coaching history that Shanahan is looking for. He was the New York Giants linebackers coach in 1983 and 1984.

This is hard to imagine, but fun to dream of Belichick being the next 49ers Defensive Coordinator. If they can convince him, it would not just be bringing in a successful former head coach, it would be bringing in someone who knows how to win Super Bowls, something Shanahan has yet to do. The 49ers should still reach out at that slight possibility.

Brandon Staley

49ers fans have not been a fan of this name being brought up. While there has not been word from the team, this is the name that sources around the league believe. As a head coach, Staley struggled heavily. He did make the playoffs with the Los Angeles Chargers, but everyone knows how that turned out. Blowing a lead like that in a playoff game may not be what the 49ers want. As a Defensive Coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams in 2020, he did well enough in one season to be hired as a head coach. While this may not be the potential 49ers Defensive Coordinator that fans want, it is still a name to watch for.

Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll – Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

Pete Caroll

This is an odd one, that feels very unlikely, but it is worth a mention. This has been a name brought up, but not by many. Carroll is set to work with the Seattle Seahawks in the front office, following the team firing him, but it is clear that Carroll still wants to coach. Carroll was the head coach for the Seahawks since 2010 and won a Super Bowl with them. Of course, the San Fransico 49ers are one of the Seahawks’ NFC West rivals. So yes, it is very unlikely that anyone sees an announcement that Carroll is the next 49ers Defensive Coordinator, but it has been mentioned so it is on the list.

Chris Harris

The current Tennessee Titans defensive back’s coach, Chris Harris is another name that has been brought up. Harris has been coaching for ten years but has never been a Defensive Coordinator. While he has not coached for the most overall successful teams, he has coached for some tough defenses. He does not have experience coaching linebackers, but that is of course not the only qualification to be in the running for the 49ers Defensive Coordinator position.

49ers defensive passing game specialist Nick Sorensen – Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Nick Sorenson

Onto the inside hires, one name that has been brought up is Nick Sorenson. He has 21 years of experience, though just one with the 49ers. He served as the 49ers defensive passing game specialist and nicklebacks coach. The 49ers have young defensive backs, who developed well throughout the 2023 season. As an inside hire, he may know the system that Shanahan wants. The past 2 inside hires for the 49ers Defensive Coordinator position were Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans, which worked out well for the 49ers.

Johnny Holland

Aside from Steve Wilks, the past two 49ers Defensive Coordinators have been the team’s linebackers coach. The current linebackers coach is Johnny Holland, so he is worth mentioning on this list. Holland has been working with the 49ers for seven years, coaching with both DeMeco Ryans and Robert Saleh. He understands the scheme that Shanahn is looking for and is close with the team’s linebackers. If the 49ers do prefer an inside hire, this is definitely a name to watch for.

Expect more updates on who is in the running for the 49ers Defensive Coordinator position. The NFL Scouting Combine will be at the end of February, and then come March there will be free agency. The offseason is heating up early for the 49ers, having to fill this position. The rumors have already begun, including those mentioning Robert Saleh being let go from the Jets and rejoining the team. While that could be exciting for 49ers fans, it would require having to wait on the Jets, which is unlikely. Stay tuned to find out who the 49ers Defensive Coordinator will be in 2024.