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Swanson: Could new hires signal the end of ‘Chargering’? Hold that thought

Expectations are high after the Chargers hired Jim Harbaugh as head coach and Joe Hortiz as GM – but let's not cut to the chase, instead savor a moment of possibility

New Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, speaks with new Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz after Hortiz’s introductory news conference on Tuesday at the team’s headquarters in Costa Mesa. Can this duo usher in a happier future for the franchise? (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)
New Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, speaks with new Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz after Hortiz’s introductory news conference on Tuesday at the team’s headquarters in Costa Mesa. Can this duo usher in a happier future for the franchise? (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Mirjam Swanson, NBA reporter for SCNG, in Monrovia on Friday, August 17, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-ɫ̳/SCNG)
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COSTA MESA — It will be fascinating to see how history remembers the Chargers’ past week or so.

Will NFL historians look back and marvel at what was, in fact, the beginning of the end of Chargering?

Will the kids in the team’s fandom teach their future children that it was the hiring of Coach Jim Harbaugh and then General Manager Joe Hortiz that ushered in a happier era, winning to match the vibes at ?

Because, from the here and now, with the Chargers replacing Brandon Staley with Harbaugh and , the team looks the part of a can’t-miss prospect. It looks like a five-tool prospect, a five-star recruit; all the potential in the world.

The , the most sought-after coach on the market, and they’re teaming him, a so-called “quarterback whisperer,” with Justin Herbert, one of football’s great young QBs. They’re also , who will follow Harbaugh from Michigan, where they won this season’s College Football Playoff national championship.

Team owner Dean Spanos finally stepped up and gave fans what they actually wanted, and he splurged to do it, too, reportedly signing Harbaugh to a deal that for five years.

And they’ve paired Harbaugh with Hortiz, a general manager of his liking – this is no “arranged marriage,” said John Spanos, president of football operations – who has a proven knack for drafting. What this is, to cite the men themselves, is Batman and Robin (but no tights, Hortiz specified). Or Red and Andy Dufresne, from “Shawshank Redemption.” Partners.

Harbaugh, a former Chargers QB, led the San Francisco 49ers to three NFC championship games, and was named the NFL Coach of the Year in his first three NFL seasons before his issues with the 49ers’ front office eventually led him back to college.

Hortiz – who has ties to Philadelphia and Delaware, as well as Auburn – spent 26 years prepping for his first GM role, ascending throughout the Baltimore Ravens’ ranks, where he found his calling not as a coach but as a scout and player personnel person. His insight helped Baltimore win two championships along the way – and, in recent history, make it as far as the AFC championship game, .

With guys like these at the helm, what could go wrong?

Lots! Life! A bolt of lightning!

Now that people in L.A. see that the other NFL team in town has furrowed its brow and gotten serious in the aftermath of a 5-12 season? Now that so much more will be expected? Now that they’ve said it aloud? First Harbaugh last week: “The Lombardi Trophy, .” And Hortiz on Tuesday: “We’re going to bring you a trophy, Dean. We’re going to get it done. I have four boys who have two rings. We’re getting the other two, at least!”

What could make such a seemingly sure-fire bet go bust? Chargering could.

Because it will take fortitude and good fortune to vanquish that pesky, annoying verb that’s been whispering subconscious putdowns for 63 years. That infectious notion that comes to mind only at the worst times, resulting in blown leads and blowouts, injuries and mental miscues, all of it spelling out the NFL’s textbook definition of underachievement.

But, you know what? Forget all that. Forget I asked. Stop thinking about what’s next.

Live in the moment, for a moment. Block out the scenes of this year’s Super Bowl walkup playing on the screens before Hortiz’s news conference began; don’t worry about whether they’ll prove an omen or a tease.

Don’t rush the reveal, the part where you find out whether it’s everything it’s cracked up to be.

Give Hortiz a hot second before he sits down to solve the Chargers’ salary cap conundrum – they’re $44 million over and have four veterans due for significant cap hits, including edge rusher Khalil Mack ($38.517 million), edge rusher Joey Bosa ($36.611 million), wide receiver Keenan Allen ($34.717 million) and wide receiver Mike Williams ($32.46 million).

I promise, we’ll get to those comp picks Hortiz is so fond of in due time. But first, chew on Tuesday a bit.

Savor this moment of possibility – an achievement in itself.

Harbaugh in plaid, gnawing on some gum, nodding and beaming in the back.

Hortiz seated at the dais, dabbing raindrops and sweat off of his bald head.

The engaging 48-year-old executive waving his arms, talking fast and answering enthusiastically every question directed his way during his first news conference as a GM, the Spanos family looking on all the while.

“Listen, in personnel, if you ask any scout what are the three things you want?” Hortiz said. “You want great ownership. Check. You want a great head coach. Check. You want a great quarterback. Check.

“Any scout that walks into a GM role, if you say I have those three things, you have a chance. You have a chance to be really good. And we have a chance, here, to be really good.

“This,” he said, “is a dream job.”

And now it’s time to get to work.

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