Brandon Staley

Latest On 49ers Coaching Staff

The 49ers found their replacement for Steve Wilks this past weekend when they promoted defensive passing game specialist Nick Sorensen to defensive coordinator. While Sorensen has had a rapid rise through the organization in recent years, his ascent to DC could have happened even sooner.

[RELATED: 49ers Promote Nick Sorensen To DC, Add Brandon Staley To Staff]

According to Albert Breer of, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was so impressed by Sorensen’s first season in San Francisco that he considered promoting the coach to DC last offseason. Shanahan ultimately believed that Sorensen needed a bit more time to develop, leading the 49ers to hire Wilks as their replacement for DeMeco Ryans.

The 49ers have also brought in Brandon Staley for some experience on their defensive coaching staff. Breer passes along that the former Chargers head coach will serve as the 49ers new assistant head coach, confirming earlier reports.

One name that wasn’t a reported candidate for the job was Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. However, Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic reports that “there was mutual interest in exploring a marriage,” with Ulbrich presumably being recruited to be the team’s new DC. Ultimately, the Jets made it clear that they weren’t going to let their coordinator take a lateral job elsewhere, and the 49ers never requested a formal request for an interview.

Ulbrich would have been a natural candidate for the job considering his connects to San Francisco. He grew up in the Bay Area and played 10 seasons for the 49ers organization. Further, as Rosenblatt notes, Ulbrich aspires to be a head coach one day, and two of San Francisco’s last three DCs ultimately earned head coaching jobs.

With Sorensen now in place as defensive coordinator, he’s starting to add to his staff. The team did add one notable name this week, with K.J. Wright announcing that he’s joining the 49ers as an assistant linebackers coach (via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times). Wright, of course, spent a decade with the 49ers’ division rivals in Seattle, with the linebacker ranking third in Seahawks history in tackles.

Wright and Sorensen previously worked alongside each other with the Seahawks, as the coach spent close to a decade on Pete Carroll‘s staff. According to Michael-Shawn Dugar and David Lombardi of The Athletic, Wright also interviewed for a position on Mike Macdonald’s new Seahawks staff, but the organization ultimately decided to go in a different direction.

49ers Promote Nick Sorensen To DC, Add Brandon Staley To Staff

After eyeing five candidates for their open defensive coordinator job, the 49ers have landed on an in-house option. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 49ers are promoting defensive passing game specialist Nick Sorensen to defensive coordinator. The 49ers are also hiring another DC candidate, Brandon Staley, for a “prominent staff role,” according to Schefter. That could include the role of assistant head coach.

Following a 10-year playing career, Sorensen transitioned to coaching in 2013. He spent close to a decade on the Seahawks staff, initially working as an assistant special teams coach before moving to the defensive side of the ball, where he served as the team’s secondary coach for four years.

The Jaguars hired him as their special teams coordinator in 2021, but he only lasted a season in Jacksonville before joining the 49ers as a defensive assistant in 2022. It took him one year to earn a promotion to defensive pass game coordinator/nickels coach.

While the 49ers cast a relatively wide net to replace Steve Wilks, the organization hinted that they were valuing continuity in their search. The 49ers also interviewed defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks for the role, and Schefter notes that the organization didn’t want to “stray far from what it has done defensively for the past seven years.” In fact, Schefter adds that part of the reason why Wilks was fired was because of his inability to “adapt to the defensive scheme” of former 49ers squads led by Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans.

While Sorensen has only been on the staff for two seasons, he does possess familiarity with the team’s scheme. Pete Carroll ran a similar defense in Seattle, and Schefter notes that Sorensen’s experience was “perhaps most valuable” in his promotion.

Staley was fired by the Chargers back in December following two-plus seasons with the organization. He finished his head coaching stint with a 24-24 record, including a single one-and-done playoff appearance. Prior to his stint with the Chargers, Staley served as the defensive coordinator with the Rams in 2020. He also previously served as linebackers coach for the Broncos and Bears.

While Staley’s defensive scheme differs from the 49ers’ scheme, GM John Lynch said that wouldn’t prevent the coach from joining the staff.

“He’s a really bright dude,” Lynch said (via Schefter). “We have an open mind, but we do know there’s certain core principles that we’re going to always be on the defensive side. … I wouldn’t rule him out because of that.”

Staley is expected to be the team’s new assistant head coach, a role previously held by Anthony Lynn (who, ironically, was also a former Chargers HC). After spending the past two seasons in San Francisco, Lynn joined Dan Quinn‘s new Commanders staff as their run game coordinator/running backs coach.

49ers Complete DC Interviews With Brandon Staley, Nick Sorensen

In the wake of the team’s Super Bowl loss, 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks was dismissed. That has created the lone coordinator vacancy remaining in the NFL’s coaching cycle, but the process of filling it is underway.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan informed NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco that a pair of DC interviews have already taken place. Those initial meetings have been with former Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, as well as 49ers defensive passing game specialist Nick Sorensen. Another internal option – defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks – will likely interview for the position later this week, per Shanahan.

Staley saw his time at the helm of the Chargers come to an end midway through the 2023 campaign. His first HC opportunity did not go according to plan, but his reputation dating back to his time as a position coach and coordinator earned him multiple DC interviews. Staley spoke with the Packers, Rams and Dolphins about their respective vacancies. The San Francisco gig represents the 41-year-old’s final opportunity to land an NFL coordinator position in 2024.

Failing that, Staley could find a role as a position coach on an NFL staff, or he could take on a position in the NCAA ranks (having most recently coached in college during the 2016 campaign). Of course, the former Rams DC could spend a year off the sidelines altogether in a bid to return during the 2025 hiring cycle. San Francisco will also consider in-house options, though.

Sorenson transitioned from playing to coaching over one decade ago, taking his first opportunity with the Seahawks in 2013. He has primarily worked on the defensive side of the ball since then, though his background on special teams landed him the ST coordinator gig with the Jaguars in 2021. After a single season in Jacksonville, the 45-year-old joined the 49ers’ staff. The 2023 campaign was his first in his current capacity.

Bollocks has been in San Francisco since Shanahan’s arrival in 2017. He spent a pair of season as an assistant working with the team’s defensive backs before being promoted to the lead role. After bringing in Wilks from outside the organization, the 49ers could elect to stay in-house with his next hire by promoting one of Bollocks or Sorenson.

Shanahan added that at least two other external candidates are expected to be interviewed in the coming days, though. In all, two minority candidates must be considered to satisfy the Rooney Rule. The 49ers do not have any NFL competition for their DC vacancy, but a decision could be coming soon as the interview process continues.

2024 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

After a crowded carousel previously stopped, the 49ers opened their defensive coordinator position. Here is how the NFC champions’ search looks:

Updated 3-2-24 (10:00am CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dave Ragone)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Ken Dorsey)

  • Joe Brady, interim offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (Bills): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed

Carolina Panthers (Out: Thomas Brown)

  • Marcus Brady, senior offensive assistant (Eagles): Interview requested
  • Brad Idzik, wide receivers coach (Buccaneers): Hired

Chicago Bears (Out: Luke Getsy)

Cincinnati Bengals (Out: Brian Callahan)

  • Andy Dickerson, offensive line coach (Seahawks): To interview
  • Dan Pitcher, quarterbacks coach (Bengals): Promoted

Cleveland Browns (Out: Alex Van Pelt)

Las Vegas Raiders (Out: Mick Lombardi)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Kellen Moore)

New England Patriots (Out: Bill O’Brien)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Pete Carmichael)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Brian Johnson)

  • Jerrod Johnson, quarterbacks coach (Texans): Interviewed
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Interviewed 1/23
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Chargers): Hired

Pittsburgh Steelers (Out: Matt Canada)

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Shane Waldron)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Dave Canales)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Tim Kelly)

  • Nick Holz, passing game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed
  • Eric Studesville, associate head coach/running backs coach (Dolphins): Interview requested

Washington Commanders (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Chip Kelly, former head coach (Eagles/49ers): On team’s radar
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Hired

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Ryan Nielsen)

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Mike Macdonald)

  • Zach Orr, inside linebackers coach (Ravens): Promoted

Buffalo Bills

  • Bobby Babich, linebackers coach (Bills): Promoted
  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Sean Desai, former defensive coordinator (Eagles): To interview

Chicago Bears (Out: Alan Williams)

  • Joe Barry, former defensive coordinator (Packers): To interview 1/27
  • Chris Harris, secondary coach (Titans): To interview
  • Eric Washington, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Bills): Hired
  • Terrell Williams, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Titans): To interview

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Dan Quinn)

Green Bay Packers (Out: Joe Barry)

Jacksonville Jaguars (Out: Mike Caldwell)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Derrick Ansley)

  • Jesse Minter, defensive coordinator (Michigan): Hired

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Raheem Morris)

Miami Dolphins (Out: Vic Fangio)

New England Patriots

  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Promoted
  • Michael Hodges, linebackers coach (Saints): To interview
  • Tem Lukabu, outside linebackers coach (Panthers): To interview
  • Christian Parker, defensive backs coach (Broncos): Interviewed

New York Giants (Out: Don Martindale)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Sean Desai)

  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Vic Fangio, former defensive coordinator (Dolphins): Hired
  • Ron Rivera, former head coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/22

San Francisco 49ers (Out: Steve Wilks)

  • Gerald Alexander, safeties coach (Raiders): Interviewed 3/1
  • Daniel Bullocks, defensive backs coach (49ers): Interviewed 2/28
  • David Merritt, defensive backs coach (Chiefs): To interview
  • Nick Sorensen, defensive passing game specialist (49ers): Promoted
  • Brandon Staley, former head coach (Chargers): Interviewed

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Clint Hurtt)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Shane Bowen)

  • Brandon Lynch, cornerbacks coach (Browns): Interviewed 1/30
  • Dennard Wilson, defensive backs coach (Ravens): Hired

Washington Commanders (Out: Jack Del Rio)

  • Joe Cullen, defensive line coach (Chiefs): Considered a candidate
  • Joe Whitt, defensive backs coach (Cowboys): Hired

Brandon Staley Meets With Packers, Dolphins; Rams To Conduct DC Interview

JANUARY 30: The Rams indeed have interest in bringing Staley back. The former Chargers HC will interview for Raheem Morris‘ old job Wednesday,’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

Staley cemented his place as a top HC candidate in 2021 by overseeing a No. 1-ranked Rams defense. While Staley’s Chargers defenses could not justify the franchise’s investment, the 2020 Rams ranked first in scoring defense and yardage allowed. With multiple teams pursuing the three-year HC, an immediate move back to a coordinator job may be in the cards.

JANUARY 26: A short list of names worth watching quickly emerged for the Packers’ defensive coordinator position once Joe Barry was fired earlier this week. Green Bay had yet to line up an interview, but that has now changed.

[RELATED: Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker]

The Packers are speaking with Brandon Staley for their DC position, Matt Schneidman and Dianna Russini of The Athletic report. Staley’s first head coaching gig, which came with the Chargers, certainly did not go according to plan. He was let go midway through the 2023 season, his third in Los Angeles. A coordinator role likely awaits him in his next NFL opportunity.

Staley was not originally thought to be under consideration for Green Bay, but he is indeed meeting with the team today, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes. This Packers summit represents the first firm interest shown in the 41-year-old, but it does not appear to be the last. Schefter adds that Staley will interview with the Dolphins for their DC posting this weekend, and that a Rams reunion could be on the table.

Miami moved on from Vic Fangio after just one season at the helm, and he has already taken the Eagles’ DC role. The Dolphins thus have a notable vacancy to fill, and their upcoming Staley interview is the team’s first known one to fill the position. Miami underperformed relative to expectations at times during the season, although by the playoffs the team’s defense was ravaged by injuries. A number of key roster pieces are in place on that side of the ball.

Like the Dolphins, the Rams made it to the wild-card round of the postseason this year. Morris played a key role in that success, and he landed the Falcons’ head coaching position in a return to Atlanta. Staley could embark on a reunion of his own by taking the Rams’ DC position, one which he held in 2020. The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue names Staley as a potential candidate for the gig (subscription required).

Despite his background, Staley’s Chargers never ranked better than 20th in total defense. That, coupled with a regression on offense in 2023, helped inform the team’s decision to dismiss him and general manager Tom Telesco. The latter has already landed the Raiders’ GM job, but it will be interesting to see where (and in what capacity) Staley winds up. Today’s update certainly point to competition for his services in a coordinator role being a distinct possibility.

Dolphins, Vic Fangio Part Ways; Eagles Deal Finalized

JANUARY 27: The Eagles have made the official announcement, marking Fangio as the team’s new defensive coordinator following the departure of Desai. Fangio will be tasked with leading a defensive unit that stumbled down the stretch in what started as a promising 2023 season. He may be forced to do it with some younger faces, as well, as some key veterans (defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, linebacker Shaquille Leonard) are facing free agency in the offseason.

JANUARY 25: Fangio is headed to Philadelphia today to finalize his defensive coordinator agreement, Schefter reports. As a result, the Eagles have one of their two coordinator vacancies filled after moving on from OC Brian Johnson. Philadelphia’s defense will be a unit to follow closely in the offseason and into the 2024 campaign.

JANUARY 24: A hotly contested Vic Fangio pursuit developed during the 2023 offseason, with an element of controversy comprising part of it. The Dolphins won out, but the parties’ union will be short-lived. The team announced Wednesday that Fangio will not return as DC.

Describing this as a mutual decision, the Dolphins are moving on from a coach whom they agreed to pay more than $4.5MM per season. Fangio had been closely tied to the Eagles’ DC job in 2023, after serving as a consultant for the team. He alluded to the Jonathan Gannon situation helping lead him out of Philly. With Fangio available again, teams will naturally be interested in the experienced defensive coach.

The Eagles are not planning to sit this one out, with’s Jeremy Fowler and Adam Schefter reporting a deal for Fangio to return to Philly is expected. CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson also indicates the Eagles expect Fangio to return and be their next DC.

The Dolphins are letting Fangio leave to allow him to be closer to his family, per ESPN. Fangio, 65, is a Pennsylvania native and sits as the top target for the Eagles’ DC job. The Eagles will still need to interview at least one external minority candidate to comply with the Rooney Rule, but it appears they have a clear preference as they look to replace Sean Desai.

Mike McDaniel will now be on his third DC in three years, moving from Josh Boyer to Fangio after the 2022 season. The Dolphins shelled out a deal that made Fangio the NFL’s highest-paid DC last year. Fangio had wanted to stay with the Eagles, but with the team expecting Gannon to remain in place for a third season, he left for Miami. It does not appear that proved to be a good fit, and the well-traveled coach is on track to step in as a savior of sorts for an Eagles team that completed a chaotic defensive season.

Demoting ex-Fangio lieutenant Desai for Matt Patricia late in the season, the Eagles lost six of their final seven games — including a one-sided wild-card game in Tampa. Patricia is expected to head elsewhere, perhaps rejoining Bill Belichick if the latter lands a head coaching job, but the Eagles will receive the good fortune of Fangio becoming available again. The Eagles have already interviewed Ron Rivera virtually, but it seems fairly clear Fangio is the favorite. Following Gannon’s departure for Arizona — which drew a tampering penalty from the NFL — the Philly defense cratered, finishing 29th in DVOA.

Fangio drew interest from a few places after not taking a job to start the 2022 season. The Falcons and Panthers interviewed the ex-Broncos HC, and the 49ers expressed interest in reuniting with him. Fangio also came up in Denver, as Sean Payton took over, but deemed the timing wrong. The Dolphins’ defense featured some of the same poor injury luck Fangio experienced in Denver, as his playoff unit lacked numerous starters — including edge anchors Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb — after missing Jalen Ramsey for half the season. The Dolphins held their own in the red zone in frigid Kansas City, but Miami’s offense crumbled in a one-sided matchup.

An NFL assistant since helming the Saints’ famed “Dome Patrol” linebacking corps in the 1980s and early ’90s, Fangio has received rave reviews for his work in Chicago and San Francisco. The Bears gig, which featured the team’s 2018 unit leading the league, led to the Broncos hiring him as head coach in 2019. Fangio was in place under Jim Harbaugh, helping the 49ers to three straight NFC title games from 2011-13.

Miami’s 2023 defense ranked 19th in DVOA; multiple names have already surfaced for the newly vacant job. Brandon Staley is expected to be a candidate,’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile has generated good reviews around the league, per’s Cameron Wolfe. Campanile is also on the Giants’ DC radar.

Staley, of course, is coming off an in-season firing as Chargers HC. Staley’s Bolts defenses underwhelmed throughout his tenure, but he would make for a natural transition in Miami, having been a Fangio charge in Chicago and Denver. Staley became a promising HC candidate after spending the 2020 season as the Rams’ DC. He has yet to interview for an HC or DC job this offseason. The former Chargers leader shares an agent with McDaniel, Dianna Russini of The Athletic tweets.

Latest On Packers’ DC Vacancy

With Joe Barry unable to save his job, the Packers are now looking for their third defensive coordinator of the Matt LaFleur era. LaFleur has now canned both Barry and Mike Pettine during the 2020s.

The Packers nearly changed Ejiro Evero‘s career path in 2021, choosing Barry over the then-Rams defensive backs coach — who had worked with LaFleur on McVay’s staff in 2017. Then-Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard was believed to be LaFleur’s top choice at that point. While LaFleur may not be closing off the Sean McVay pipeline, one of the Rams leader’s better-known assistants will not be considered for the Packers job.

[RELATED: 2024 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker]

Brandon Staley is not on Green Bay’s radar, according to’s Rob Demovsky. The first Chargers HC dismissed in-season since Kevin Gilbride in 1998, Staley has not been connected to any head coaching or defensive coordinator opening since that December firing. Staley rocketed to the HC radar in 2020, using the Rams’ DC post to reach that place. Previously, he had resided as outside linebackers coach for two teams — the Bears and Broncos — under Vic Fangio. The Fangio scheme’s present popularity aside, Staley has yet to receive an interview.

LaFleur also worked with Aubrey Pleasant back in 2017, during his season as Rams OC, and hired him following a Lions dismissal in 2022. Demovsky mentions the veteran staffer as a possible candidate. The team is also believed to have been impressed by Chris Harris in 2021; Harris, who spent this season as the Titans’ DBs coach, is back on the DC radar following the Titans’ firing of Mike Vrabel. Jerry Gray, who served as a Packers assistant from 2020-22, also could be a candidate,’s Jeremy Fowler adds. A Gray and Barry philosophical disagreement led the former out of town in 2023; Gray spent this season on the Falcons’ staff. With 2023 Atlanta DC Ryan Nielsen taking over in Jacksonville, it is possible Gray would follow.

The Packers are allowing defensive assistants to explore opportunities, per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, but it is unclear if the team would allow lateral moves to take place at this point. It still looks like their defensive staff makeup will come down to what their next DC prefers, as should be expected.

Chargers Interested In Jim Harbaugh; Latest On Team’s HC Search

DECEMBER 23: The Chargers will cast a wide net in their coaching search, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (video link). Candidates with a background as a coordinator, along with those who fit the CEO-type profile will be considered as a result. Spending big on a coach (either Harbaugh or another high-profile option) will not be an issue, per Rapoport.

That sentiment is echoed by a report from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. The Chargers will consider any path during their bid to find not only a new coach, but also a general manager, per Florio. The order in which the HC and GM additions are made, along with the organizational structure as it pertains to reporting to Spanos is thus in the air at this point as the team remains one to watch with the offseason on the horizon.

DECEMBER 20: Although Jim Harbaugh wrapped his playing career after the 2001 season, his last NFL action came with the Chargers in 2000. Dean Spanos was in place as Chargers CEO at that point. More than 20 years later, the subject of a reunion continues to come up.

Harbaugh being connected to NFL teams is not exactly new, as the Michigan HC has regularly been tied to a return to the pros. He interviewed with the Broncos this year and the Vikings in 2022. The Chargers sent out a feeler to Harbaugh recently, and Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz follows up the team is indeed interested in bringing the successful HC back to the NFL.

It is not known if Harbaugh is interested in coming to Los Angeles, but even as he in talks with Michigan on another extension, aspirations of returning to the NFL continue to surface. As for the Chargers’ willingness to give Harbaugh or another high-profile HC autonomy they would likely seek, the organization appears to be at a proving ground during this HC hiring period.

The Bolts have a history of not authorizing big salaries for HCs, and John Spanos — Dean’s son — resides as the team’s president of football operations. Pointing to John Spanos not being eager to relinquish certain control that could be required to land a heavy hitter like Harbaugh or Bill Belichick, the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora classifies such a hire as unlikely. An anonymous GM told La Canfora that Belichick would clash with John Spanos, while also casting doubt about Harbaugh’s fit.

Pointing to Chargers sensitivity about a perception they are unwilling to spend what it takes,’s Albert Breer notes a Harbaugh-to-L.A. scenario or a Belichick trade should not be dismissed. The Chargers have not landed a big-name coach in more than 20 years. After hiring Marty Schottenheimer in 2002, the Bolts have gone with Norv Turner, Mike McCoy, Anthony Lynn and Brandon Staley. Three of those were first-timers, while Turner went 1-for-9 in playoff berths while in Washington and Oakland. With Dean Spanos’ statement upon firing Staley and GM Tom Telesco indicating the organization wants to reimagine its process en route to building a hopeful championship team, the overhaul may need to include his son’s role.

After its batch of rookie HCs came up short, L.A.’s AFC team is believed to want a proven option. Harbaugh also may be viewed as a better fit internally compared to Belichick. The Bolts have been connected to Lions OC Ben Johnson, as other teams will be, but that would represent a similar hire to those on which the organization signed off under Telesco .

Although obviously buoyed by his name, John Spanos began his rise as a Chargers scout. After a stint from 2008-13 as director of college scouting, Spanos ascended to VP of football operations. He has been in the football ops president role since 2015.

I would talk to Tom or Brandon almost every day. I think my background only helps me in sort of being able to kind of evaluate where we are and really helps me in working with the head coach and GM,” John Spanos said, via The Athletic’s Daniel Popper (subscription required). “But I’m not making the decisions on, ‘Hey, coach, you have to start this player.’ Right? I’ve never done that. My dad’s never done that. We’ve never gone down and said, ‘You’ve got to run this play.’ Or, ‘Hey, you have to draft this player.’

I believe in working together with them. I’m very involved. Because of my background, and I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to work on the lowest level of the organization to where I am now, I think it helps me in working with people.”

It is unclear if the Chargers are prepared to give their next head coach a significant say in personnel matters. A Staley-driven effort to reload the defense in 2022 brought in the likes of Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson and Sebastian Joseph-Day. The Chargers indeed have spent the seventh-most cash over the past two years, per Spotrac, though defensive improvement proved elusive. Justin Herbert‘s $52.5MM-per-year extension is on the team’s books through 2029.

The Chargers will look into whether they need to be more transactional, per Breer, with regards to in-season trades or dealing picks for talent. Whether player expenses will lead to the team giving its HC more influence remains to be seen.

Taking a step back and looking at everything and being willing to consider all possibilities, meaning consider setup, structure, qualities in coaches, qualities in GMs, backgrounds of coaches, backgrounds of GMs — reimagining, really, the entire structure and setup,” Spanos said (via Popper). “And reimagining doesn’t mean making a dramatic change and saying, ‘OK, we’re going to go in this direction and do the opposite of what we’ve done.’ It’s just really reflecting and self-evaluating and make sure we give ourselves the best chances for success.”

Coaching agents have contacted the Spanoses regarding their respective clients’ interest in the job and getting the best out of Herbert, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. Staley’s attitude was also perceived in some league circles as cocky, per Russini. The defensive specialist became the first Chargers HC fired in-season since Kevin Gilbride in 1998.

Harbaugh, 59, would not exactly be a step back in that department. The strong-willed coach ruffled feathers consistently in San Francisco, engaging in a power struggle with then-GM Trent Baalke, and has been suspended twice during this latest Michigan season. Given the opportunity to coach Herbert, however, probably would entice the nine-year Wolverines HC. While Harbaugh has returned to Ann Arbor after two efforts to come back to the NFL, the Chargers represent an interesting opportunity. Would this lower-key team be the right fit for a Harbaugh comeback?

Chargers Fire Brandon Staley, Tom Telesco

Following the Raiders’ historic rout of the Chargers on Thursday night, the reeling team will drop the hammer early. The Bolts announced the firings of Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco on Friday morning.

The Chargers have since announced the promotion of Giff Smith and JoJo Wooden to respectively replace Staley and Telesco on an interim basis. The former has experience as a D-line coach dating back to 1999, and he has been in the organization since 2016. Over the past two seasons, though, he has worked as the team’s outside linebackers coach. This will be Smith’s first appointment as a head coach at the college or pro level.

Wooden, meanwhile, has been with the Chargers for the past decade. He has served with the title of player personnel director after working his way through the ranks in the Jets’ scouting department from 1997 to 2012. Like Smith, he will now oversee the conclusion of a highly disappointing campaign for the Bolts before potentially garnering consideration for the full-time role.

This is the first instance of the Chargers firing a head coach in-season since they axed Kevin Gilbride 25 years ago. But Staley has long been expected to be out, with the Bolts regressing in a season following a 27-point collapse in the wild-card round. Telesco spent 11 years as the Chargers’ GM. While much-hyped rosters formed under his watch, the team did not turn well-regarded transactions into sustained success.

Hired in 2021, Staley came over after one season as the Rams’ defensive coordinator. But the ascendant assistant could not establish success in this area with the Chargers. The Raiders dropping 63 on their rivals, 42 of those points coming in the first half, after the Vikings had held them scoreless in Week 15 prompted Bolts ownership to act early.

Telesco backed Staley following the Jaguars’ wild-card rally, which doubled as the third-biggest postseason deficit ever overcome, and the “what if?” involving Sean Payton is worth examining. The then-FOX analyst was linked to being interested in the Chargers job at multiple points last year. The move would have allowed Payton to stay in Los Angeles. But Telesco kept Staley, continuing a Chargers trend of keeping coaches beyond two seasons.

Staley is now the first Bolts HC to lose his job after less than four full seasons since the team fired Mike Riley following the 2001 campaign. Even Riley, who did not produce a winning season, lasted longer than Staley. But the alarming Week 15 performance opened the door to the Bolts needing to cut the cord now. As the team began to struggle this season, Chargers president John Spanos — a previous Staley advocate — began to distance himself from the embattled HC,’s Armando Salguero notes. The Spanoses will now begin to look for Staley’s replacement in an offseason that will remind of 2013, when the Bolts replaced both their HC and GM.

The Telesco news represents a bigger-picture development. The former Colts exec had hired Mike McCoy, Anthony Lynn and Staley during his run as GM. Telesco’s drafts brought difference-makers in Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, Derwin James, Rashawn Slater and Justin Herbert. Telesco did well to leave no gaps between star quarterbacks, selecting Herbert sixth overall a month after Philip Rivers departed in free agency. Telesco, 51, also hammered out a through-2029 Herbert extension this offseason. The quarterback’s presence will make both the new Bolts vacancies attractive, but rampant underachievement has defined this team for much of the 21st century.

Even before the Raiders’ rout, Telesco was rumored to be on the chopping block. Dean Spanos will opt to not let Telesco hire a fourth HC. The three he hired combined for just three playoff appearances in 11 seasons. The Chargers, who had sustained success under Marty Schottenheimer and the early part of Norv Turner‘s ensuing HC run, have not ventured to back-to-back playoff brackets since the 2008-09 seasons. Despite Rivers playing his final seven Chargers seasons during Telesco’s tenure, the potential Hall of Famer only piloted the Bolts to two playoff brackets in that span. The Chargers won postseason games in 2013 and ’18 and were on track to eliminate the Jags last season, but success proved fleeting for squads that seemed to annually generate buzz.

After hiring offense-oriented coaches in 2013 and ’17, Telesco chose Staley’s defensive acumen to pair with Herbert in 2021. The Chargers managed to produce the AFC’s Pro Bowl starting quarterback and miss the playoffs. That had not happened in the AFC since the 1989 Bengals. Herbert put up dazzling numbers in 2021, but a Week 18 loss to the Raiders led to the budding superstar’s season wrapping early. A rib injury last September limited Herbert, and Staley fired OC Joe Lombardi following the playoff season. Two-year DC Renaldo Hill left to rejoin Vic Fangio in Miami this offseason.

Following a 2021 season that featured the Bolts ranking 29th in points allowed, Staley made a push for the team to equip him with better defensive personnel in 2022. The team traded for Khalil Mack and signed J.C. Jackson and Sebastian Joseph-Day. The Mack trade belatedly panned out, with the former Raiders and Bears standout rebounding for 15 sacks this season. The five-year, $82.5MM Jackson contract proved disastrous for the Chargers, who sent the underperforming cornerback back to the Patriots for next to nothing earlier this season.

The Chargers had made Jackson a healthy scratch in Week 3. Even after the round of defensive reinforcements, Staley’s 2022 defense ranked 20th; after last night’s Raider rampage, his third Charger defense ranks 29th. Last season’s Jacksonville catastrophe also featured the Bolts lining up without Mike Williams, who was injured in a meaningless Week 18 game against the Broncos. Staley and Telesco each defended the decision to leave starters in that contest deep into the second half, but the Chargers — who have struggled with receiver health over the past two seasons — suffered the consequences of Williams’ absence a week later. As the Chargers swooned in the wake of the playoff debacle, they lost Herbert to a season-ending finger injury.

Herbert’s status will naturally drive interest in this position, and some around the league are monitoring the Chargers as a Bill Belichick suitor. The Bolts would likely need to trade for the Patriots legend, and it would be interesting to see if this gains traction. A short-term Belichick-Herbert pairing would draw interest for a franchise that has struggled to establish itself in L.A., while such a move would also be a zag after Telesco made inexperienced coordinators — in Staley and Lynn — his HC choices. But we are still a ways away from the Belichick market taking shape.

Regardless of where the Chargers go from here, their next regime will be responsible for undoing some of the damage this era brought. The organization’s reputation for letdowns pushed “Chargering” into the NFL lexicon. In a division with Payton and Patrick Mahomes, the Bolts suddenly have more ground to make up despite striking gold with Herbert.

Adam La Rose contributed to this post.

Chargers GM Tom Telesco On Hot Seat?

Tom Telesco has spent more than a decade with the Chargers organization. However, with his squad eyeing another underwhelming finish, there’s a chance he’s let go after the season. According to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post, “there’s a strong expectation within the industry” that the Chargers will be seeking a new head coach and a new GM this offseason.

After stops with the Bills and the Panthers to begin his career, Telesco worked his way up through the Colts organization, culminating in him earning the role of vice president of football operations. At the same time, the Chargers were about to miss the playoffs for the third straight season, leading to longtime GM A.J. Smith‘s ouster.

Telesco ended up earning the Chargers GM job, and he helped build a roster that ultimately won a playoff game in his first season at the helm. However, the Chargers only won one more playoff game over the next nine seasons, with the organization only having a pair of playoff appearances over that span. The exec has a had a few highs (including a 12-4 season in 2018) and more lows (including three seasons with five or fewer wins), but he’s managed to stick around as one of the longest-tenured GMs in the NFL.

The organization’s lack of success might finally catch up to Telesco in 2023. The Chargers currently sit at 5-8, and with Justin Herbert set to miss the rest of the season, things probably aren’t going to get much better in Los Angeles. Owner Dean Spanos will reportedly conduct an offseason evaluation of the organization, and it could ending up leading to significant changes.

As for head coach Brandon Staley, it’s seeming like a foregone conclusion that the head coach will be canned following the season. As the criticism mounts, the Chargers have already been connected to potential replacement options. However, La Canfora warns that Staley might not even make it to the offseason and could be an in-season casualty. With his defense stumbling and his franchise quarterback sidelined, Staley could be facing a brutal end of the season, and a humiliating loss could ultimately cost him his job.