Ron Rivera did his part in San Diego

While it’s never easy to see a coordinator of a unit leave the team, this can’t be considered a sad day in San Diego.

Yes, Ron Rivera will be missed by the Chargers. But San Diego has to take pride in the fact that he is on his way to Carolina, becoming the Panthers’ head coach.

It’s like sending a student to an Ivy League school. The Chargers have to be proud of their former defensive coordinator.

After having nine interviews for head-coaching gigs in the past six years, Rivera has finally landed in the big chair. It’s well deserved. Rivera did an outstanding job in San Diego. The Chargers were ranked No.1 in total defense this season.

Rivera helped save the Chargers’ season in 2008. As inside linebackers coach, Rivera replaced Ted Cottrell as the Chargers’ defensive coordinator at midseason. The Chargers caught fire after the move and went on to the playoffs. The unit has been strong ever since.

The Chargers have to be thrilled with the production they got out of Rivera. He led a defense of two playoff teams and his unit was the best in the league, statistically speaking, in his final season there. Rivera did his part in San Diego.

Quiet, intelligent and dedicated, the former Chicago linebacker was known as a detailed-oriented player’s coach. There’s no question San Diego’s players responded well to him and there’s no question he will be missed.

San Diego now must find Rivera’s replacement. Because Rivera had such an impact on the team, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of his defensive assistants will be considered in an attempt to keep continuity.

San Diego, which will continue running a 3-4 defense, could look at secondary coach Steve Wilks, linebacker coach John Pagano and defensive line coach Don Johnson. There has been a lot of talk that San Francisco defensive coordinator Greg Manusky could be a candidate. Dallas has also shown interest in Manusky.

UPDATE: ESPN.com is reporting Dave Wannstedt will be a candidate in San Diego. This makes sense. Wannstedt and San Diego coach Norv Turner are very close and have a long history together. I could see this pairing happening.