Former 49ers OCs ride NFL coaching carousel

Former 49ers offensive coordinators Norv Turner and Mike Martz took a spin on the NFL coaching carousel once the season ended Sunday, and Martz got tossed off Tuesday while Turner held on and kept his job as head coach in San Diego. Here's the other top coaching/personnel news from Tuesday, along with several top college underclassmen who have declared to come out early for the 2012 NFL draft.

Chargers owner Dean Spanos said he believes head coach Norv Turner and general manger A.J. Smith remain the best men for the jobs they hold, and retained both for the 2012 season.

"Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs," said Spanos, team president and chairman of the board. "A.J. Smith is the best man to improve our roster, and Norv Turner is the best man to lead that roster on the field.

"Together, we have stability and experience that's hard to find in the NFL. They've both been in this league a long time. I don't think there is anything they haven't seen or experienced. They've led us through some difficult situations."

Turner served one season as the 49ers offensive coordinator in 2006 before leaving San Francisco to take over as coach of the Chargers.

The Chargers have deliberated about Turner's future for three seasons, but each time Spanos has remained committed to the management structure in place. The Chargers are owned by Spanos' father, Stockton multimillionaire developer Alex Spanos.

Turner is considered a top offensive mind, but quarterback Philip Rivers' regression in 2011, when he threw a career-high 20 interceptions with seven fumbles, put him closer to the firing line.

Rivers, as several veterans did, came to Turner's defense after the San Diego's impressive season-ending win at Oakland that knocked the Raiders out of the playoffs.

"As we've seen throughout Norv's tenure and particularly this past season, the players believe in him, respect him and play hard for him. When we went through that tough stretch, no one quit. The team kept playing hard, and that's a tribute to Norv's leadership and the respect the players have for him," Dean Spanos said.

IT WAS A DAY OF CHANGE IN CHICAGO, where general manager Jerry Angelo was relieved of his duties and offensive coordinator Mike Martz resigned.

The contract of Martz, the 49ers' offensive coordinator in 2008, was set to expire in February the Bears were not going to be asking him back.

Quarterbacks coach Shane Day, a hire made with Martz's heavy input, also will not return in 2012.

"After meeting with Mike this afternoon, we both felt it was best to move in different directions," Bears coach Lovie Smith said in a statement. "I appreciate the job he and Shane did for us over the last two years."

Martz informed Smith on Tuesday morning that he was resigning due to differences in philosophy over how the offense should be run, according to multiple reports.

Angelo's ouster was unexpected, but the team's injury issues exposed a lack of depth that was traced to the Bears' top decision-maker.

"I will always be thankful to Jerry for hiring me to be the head coach of the Chicago Bears," Smith said. "We had an excellent working relationship and he helped us win a lot of football games. I have tremendous respect for him and am sorry to see him go. But I also will embrace the opportunity that comes with change. As I said yesterday, we have an excellent core in place. I look forward to working with a new general manager to bring a championship to Chicago."

Angelo was hired in 2001 and his contract wasn't due to expire until 2013. Smith was the only head coach Angelo hired.

The Bears began the season 7-3 but finished the final six games 1-5 without injured quarterback Jay Cutler and were without running back Matt Forte (knee) since Dec. 4.

EAGLES OWNER JEFFREY LURIE SAID THE 2011 SEASON was the most disappointing in his tenure with the team, but the fallout won't claim the job of coach Andy Reid.

Lurie said: "I want Andy back," after a summary of his evaluation of short-term and long-term results within the organization.

Lurie said Reid remains driven to be the best. The Eagles have averaged more than 10 wins per season with Reid at the helm, but the 8-8 finish was nowhere near expectations for a team that appeared to be built for Super Bowl contention. At least within the NovaCare Center team complex, that was the belief.

THE DOLPHINS INTERVIEWED JEFF FISHER on Tuesday, accelerating their coaching search, which currently has four known candidates.

Fisher spent 17 years as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans but resigned in February and did not coach in 2011. He flew to Miami and then arrived at the facility in owner Stephen Ross' helicopter.

Todd Bowles, the interim head coach who went 2-1 after replacing Tony Sparano in December, and Bears special teams coach Dave Toub were interviewed. New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is also a candidate.

Underclassmen declaring for draft

With major bowl games starting to wrap up, several marquee players announced Tuesday they intend to enter the 2012 NFL Draft with a year of eligibility remaining – most were expected while a few are taking big leaps of faith.

The rundown, in order of how they are currently rated by

--- Stanford junior left tackle Jonathan Martin said "it's time to take the next step." Martin, the blind-side protector for potential No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, is the No. 3-rated offensive tackle and No. 13-rated prospect overall by Offensive guard David DeCastro announced before the Fiesta Bowl that he intends to leave the Cardinal a year early as well. Both highly-regarded linemen are well known to Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff, who coached both players last year at Stanford, and both are prospects the 49ers will consider high on their board. At 6-feet-6 and 305 pounds, Martin is known for his athleticism and considered a good fit for a zone-blocking scheme. Among tackles, he is rated behind only fellow juniors Matt Kalil from Southern California and Iowa's Riley Reiff. Kalil has already said he's entering the draft, and Martin could rise quickly up draft boards with a strong showing in pre-draft workouts.

--- Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox is leaving the Bulldogs. Cox, who can play inside or outside and will be a fit for most any NFL scheme, is the No. 3-rated defensive tackle and No. 16-rated prospect overall. He is 6-4, 295 pounds and was an All-SEC pick after racking up 5.0 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last season. "God works in many ways," Cox told the New York Times. "He answered my prayer and I knew deep down in my heart it was time for me to go."

--- Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu said he is "emotionally attached to this team" in announcing his intent to leave for the NFL. The record-setting wideout leaves with 210 receptions for 2,263 career yards. He is a big target at 6-2 and 215 pounds, but pre-draft workouts will be watched closely by scouts who have questions about his top-end speed. Sanu is the No. 4-ranked wide receiver and No. 29-ranked prospect overall. "It was a tough decision, because I was definitely thinking about coming back," Sanu said during a press conference. "I'm going to miss the family, the cohesiveness of being around my teammates every day.

--- Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus is hoping to ride his school-record-tying 16 sacks into a strong showing in the pre-draft circuit. He tied the record of Simeon Rice, and Mercilus earned All-America honors while forcing nine fumbles - the second-highest single-season total in franchise history. He also had 22.5 tackles for loss. Mercilus, 6-3, 262, is the No. 3-rated defensive end and No. 35 overall. Mercilus entered the season with just two career sacks, but his departure after a monster season didn't come as a surprise following the firing of Ron Zook and with defensive coordinator and interim head coach Vic Koenning declining an offer to stay on as coordinator.

--- Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict is known for his physical style that leads to too many personal fouls, in addition to multiple issues with the coaching staff. It was clear weeks ago he had no intention of returning to the Sun Devils, and he made the announcement Tuesday. Burfict, 6-3, 250, has a load of upside, but is currently rated as the No. 3 inside linebacker prospect and No. 44 overall.

--- North Carolina defensive end Donte Paige-Moss is leaving the Tar Heels despite tearing the ACL in his right knee in the Independence Bowl. The 6-4, 260-pounder is the No. 3-rated defensive end prospect for 2013. Paige-Moss was inconsistent following a breakout 2010 season, and his injury will certainly affect his draft stock, although an NFL team taking a chance on him could reap the rewards once he's health.

--- South Florida running back Darrell Scott surprised many by saying he's leaving the Bulls after just one season. The transfer from Colorado sat out the 2010 season and rushed for 814 yards this year. Scott is 6-1 and 239 pounds, and is the No. 21-rated running back prospect for 2013 who now jumps into a fairly deep running back class.

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