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Steve Wilks: We’ve had a lot of success around here and want to build on that

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons look ahead to the Week 5 SNF matchup between “NFC heavyweights” Cowboys and 49ers.

After DeMeco Ryans departed the 49ers to become the Texans head coach, San Francisco hired Steve Wilks to be the club’s next defensive coordinator.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan has said that he brought in Wilks in part to help keep continuity within what’s been a successful scheme for years. In 2022, the 49ers were No. 1 in both points allowed and yards allowed.

On Friday, Wilks told reporters how impressed he’s been with the players since they’ve been in the building, noting that he’s looking to help the group continue to improve.

“I think you have to embrace the success that they’ve had here. I think there’s a foundation that we all agree we wanted to keep,” Wilks said in his press conference. “And I think there’s an opportunity, as we go through the process, which we already have, is to try to tweak things a little bit. I still think there’s room for improvement. If you talk to the players, they would tell you the same.

“So, when it’s not broke, you don’t really want to try to fix it. And once again, we’ve had a lot of success around here and we just want to continue to build on that.”

Wilks looked back and studied what San Francisco’s defense had done since Shanahan arrived in 2017 and his biggest takeaway was how strong the club’s line has been.

“I think — and my philosophy is the same, I’ve always had this — everything we do starts up front. And when you look at how dominant we’ve been over the years, it’s because of our defensive line,” Wilks said “We’ve done a great job building that through the draft. As I just alluded to, we did some great things in free agency this past year. So, [defensive line coach Kris] Kocurek does a tremendous job. He’s one of the best in the business at what he does. And he’s had a major impact on this defense.

“So, that was really the biggest thing that stood out to me was just how great we were up front consistently over the years.”

Already armed with 2022 AP defensive player of the year Nick Bosa, the 49ers added to that defensive line by signing arguably the best available free agent in Javon Hargrave. Wilks will have plenty of talent to work with as he looks to keep San Francisco’s defense atop the league in 2023.