Chargers fire ex-49ers coordinator Manusky

634158.jpg

Chargers fire ex-49ers coordinator Manusky

SAN DIEGO (AP) The San Diego Chargers fired defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on Thursday after just one year on the job and replaced him a few hours later with linebackers coach John Pagano.

The shake-up came four days after the Chargers finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs for the second straight year, and two days after coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith were notified by team President Dean Spanos that they will return next season.

Pagano is the brother of Chuck Pagano, defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

Pagano said the moves were shocking because he considered Manusky as close as a brother.

"It's a bittersweet day," Pagano said." I'm excited about the opportunity, don't get me wrong, but I love him very dearly."

Turner defended Manusky -- who served as the 49ers' defensive coordinator from 2007-2010 -- at his final news conference of the season on Monday, saying he didn't consider the hiring of Manusky a mistake, as some in the organization reportedly felt.

"Under the circumstances, he and his staff have done a good job,'" Turner said, suggesting that the Chargers lack impact players.

The Chargers' defense wasn't as aggressive as promised by Manusky, a former NFL linebacker who coached Chargers linebackers before serving as San Francisco's defensive coordinator from 2007-10.. The Chargers did lack impact players on defense, in part because of injuries but also because top draft picks over the years haven't panned out.

San Diego routed the Ravens at home on Dec. 18 to keep its playoff hopes alive, then was eliminated from postseason contention in a sound defeat at Detroit on Christmas Eve.

After that game, Turner said: "The biggest question is how can you play so well against Baltimore, then not play well against Detroit? A lot of it is matchups; a lot of it is the style of offense. We have not played well against a wide-open spread offense, whether it be Green Bay or the way Chicago played us and threw the ball. Defensively we've struggled against teams that spread us out and used three or four wide receivers."

Turner denied that Manusky was a scapegoat.

"Obviously, when you make a change, that's a natural thing that people assume," Turner said Thursday. "I think we looked hard at what we need to do to move forward. We made a decision about what was the direction I wanted to go, we wanted to go. John was a part this defense for a long time, and I think he'll do a good job at it."

Pagano interviewed for the job last year before the Chargers gave Manusky a two-year contract to replace Ron Rivera, who left to become head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

"I don't know if our philosophies are that much different. We both kind of learned under Wade Phillips," Pagano said, mentioning the former Chargers' defensive coordinator. 'This was a dream of mine to become the defensive coordinator here. I've worked many years here and it's something I've always looked forward to. ... We've just got to play better and play smarter. See the ball and go tackle the guy with the ball and good things will happen."

Pagano won't label his style.

"There's no signature. I don't have that attacking style or this or that. We're going to put pressure on the quarterback. We've got to create turnovers and we've got to play hard."

Turner said Pagano will bring a mix of what he learned under Phillips, Rivera and Manusky.

"We do know we need to get better on third down," Turner said. "We fell off a great deal there. That will be a big part of our emphasis."

Pagano spent the last 10 seasons on San Diego's staff and has coached linebackers since 2005.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.

 

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

SANTA CLARA -- General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan sat down with 49ers pass-rusher Aaron Lynch shortly after assuming their new roles to give him an outline of what was expected.

Aaron Lynch entered the NFL in 2014 as a fifth-round draft pick despite having the talent worthy of a much-earlier selection. There were concerns about his commitment and character.

Lynch showed plenty of promise in his first two seasons. He tied for the club lead both seasons with six and 6.5 sacks, respectively. Last year, Lynch reported to the offseason program 30 pounds overweight. He was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy of substances of abuse. Then, he missed considerable time with an ankle injury. In seven games, Lynch recorded just 1.5 sacks.

John Lynch and Shanahan told Aaron Lynch his past transgressions would not be held against him, but he had to work hard and prove himself. As Lynch enters the final year of his original four-year contract, his spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster is anything but a certainty.

“Basically, everybody on this team, no matter what has happened before you came into the league or when you’ve been in the league, they’re not holding that against you and it’s a new clean slate,” Lynch said. “So I need to do everything I can to make sure I have a clean slate with them.”

Lynch is currently working with the second unit at the “Leo” position on the 49ers’ defensive line, behind Arik Armstead.

“’Leo’ is a lot of damn fun, so, yeah, I like it a lot,” Lynch said. “You get to set the edge and go get the quarterback.”

Lynch said he is in better physical condition than he was a year ago at this time. He said his target playing weight is in the 260-270 range. He said he is currently in the 280s.

“I came in heavy, but I’ve been working my (butt) off to get down to where my coach wants me to get down to, and where I feel I would be best to give everything I can for my team and do what I can for my team,” Lynch said.

While the 49ers did not witness any improvement in Lynch's commitment at the beginning of the offseason, things seem to be turning around. Shanahan said Lynch has missed only one day of the team's voluntary offseason program -- an excused absence to deal with a situation concerning his wife.

“There’s no doubt Aaron’s going in the right direction for us," Shanahan said. "He came in in the offseason, we challenged him hard with just the way we worked and stuff. He hasn’t shied away from any of it. He’s jumped in on all of our stuff.

"So he’s gotten better each day. He’s gotten more in shape each day and I’m seeing it on the field each day.”