Chargers fire ex-49ers coordinator Manusky

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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.

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Michael Wilhoite has spent his whole five-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.

But now the free agent inside linebacker is reportedly switching sides in the NFC West rivalry. Wilhoite is set to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. 

Terms of the deal are unknown at this time. 

Wilhoite, 30, played in all 16 games last season for the 49ers, starting in only six. In 2016 he recorded 55 tackles, 30 less than 2015 in four less games, and forced one fumble. 

After earning a promotion from the 49ers' practice squad in 2012, Wilhoite's career in the Bay Area comes to an end with 268 tackles and three interceptions in 65 games. 

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.

In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.

The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."

Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.

"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.

Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.

"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."

As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.

The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."

"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.

McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.

During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.

"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."

Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."