Dark horse Chargers head coach candidate may no longer be a sleeper after Week 16

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Chargers nearly gave the Buffalo Bills a heart attack over Christmas weekend but ultimately fell short. Chargers fans weren't really concerned about the outcome of that game, as all the attention has been turned to the team's head coaching search.

If anything, Saturday's game proved that with the right head coach, this Chargers team can actually be good again as early as next season. That has made fans' desire for Jim Harbaugh even stronger, especially after he and his camp seemingly sent a not-so-subtle message to the organization about what his price is going to be.

Hiring Harbaugh is far from a guarantee, especially because he could simply decide to stay with Michigan. With Bill Belichick not seeming realistic and Ben Johnson being so expensive, the Chargers may instead turn to a dark horse head coach candidate to the dismay of fans who want a big-name option.

One of those dark horse candidates put together one of the most impressive showings of the entire NFL season on primetime on Christmas night. In a potential Super Bowl preview between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, Ravens defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald led his unit to great success against the best offense in the entire sport.

Mike MacDonald may no longer be a dark horse Chargers head coach candidate

For those who did not catch the game on Christmas night, the Ravens held the 49ers to 19 points at home. Baltimore was able to come away with five takeaways in the game, picking off Brock Purdy four times and backup San Darnold once.

Best of all, for the Ravens, is the fact that they did it against a mostly healthy 49ers team. The 49ers have struggled some in the past without Deebo Samuel or Christian McCaffrey and that was not the case on Monday night. Baltimore did this against the best version of the 49ers.

These are the kind of performances that are going to look great in the interview process. From the Chargers' point of view, MacDonald could offer the things that Brandon Staley didn't. Perhaps he could stabilize the defense and build a good culture while allowing Kellen Moore to still call the shots on offense.

MacDonald has also coached under both Harbaugh brothers, coaching at Michigan before he jumped ship to the Ravens. If the Chargers are unable to get Harbaugh, it would not be totally surprising if they talk themselves into someone who has coached closely under both Harbaughs.

Of course, there is a lot of risk in hiring a candidate like MacDonald and that is why a lot of fans would push back on the hire. He would be a first-time head coach who is young and has limited NFL experience. That was the exact same story with Staley, and we all saw how that panned out.

But regardless of whether or not you like MacDonald as a fan, it is impossible to ignore the fact that he may strongly be in the running for the Chargers job.

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