49ers

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.

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Kyle Shanahan is, self admittedly, not a patient person. As he watched quarterback C.J. Beathard run the scout team over the last couple of weeks -- how he visualized an unfamiliar play, went through his progressions and handled the defensive coverages -- the head coach saw rapid improvement every day. But he suppressed any urge to play the rookie before he was ready.

“I tried to wait for the right time for him and the right time for the team,” Shanahan explained.

Down 14-0 to Washington halfway through the second quarter with starter Brian Hoyer struggling, Shanahan knew Beathard’s time had come.

“I felt the team needed it right then,” Shanahan said. “It also made me more confident to do it because I thought he was ready for it, also.”

Moments after the game was over, Shanahan named Beathard the starter. Watching the game tape on the flight home only bolstered his decision.

“By no means was he perfect, missed a couple of things, but that always happens,” Shanahan said. “I thought he came in there, didn’t hesitate, competed. The moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm, made a few off schedule plays and was a big reason we got back in that game.”

Beathard led the 49ers on two scoring drives and finished 19-of-36 with 245 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, though it came on fourth-and-20 on his final pass attempt of the game. On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, Beathard extended the play when the fifth year receiver wasn’t where he expected him to be.

“He was supposed to go to the post for a certain coverage, and they had a busted coverage, so he just hung out there which is why C.J. didn’t see it right away,” Shanahan explained. “We had enough protection where he could take a couple more hitches. He drove the pocket and saw where Aldrick was, and he didn’t hesitate. Made that throw with that arm strength.”

Shanahan smirked at his not-so-subtle dig at those who questioned Beathard’s arm strength during the draft process. He sees a quarterback who can make all the throws, and make them from the pocket, and scramble when he needs to. All he needs now, Shanahan contends, is experience.

“It’s about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He’s going to see a lot of things he hasn’t seen before, and that will change each week. It will probably change each quarter.”

Helping Beathard continue to grow through those experiences will require patience, but in this situation, it’s the kind the head coach can handle.

“You’re never going to get a quick answer. You see over time, but he’s got the ability to do it. He’s got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”

Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely

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USATSI

Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead will be out indefinitely with a broken hand, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday.

“He’s going to need surgery, so it’s going to be some time,” Shanahan said of Armstead, the 49ers' first-round pick in the 2015 draft.

The 49ers will discuss placing Armstead of injured reserve, which would rule him out for at least eight weeks. The 49ers will also be without defensive end Aaron Lynch this week against the Dallas Cowboys. Lynch is week-to-week with a calf strain.

“The more guys you lose, the less you like that depth,” Shanahan said. “Losing Arik, which could be some time. We’ll have to discuss IR. We have to do that over the next couple of days. We know we’re going to have Lynch out, too, for at least a week or most likely more. That takes away two guys who were helping.”

The 49ers might make a roster move to add a defensive lineman to their 53-man roster. The 49ers also expect outside linebacker/defensive end Dekoda Watson to return to action this week after missing two weeks with a groin strain.