Every Chargers head coach ever: Full list

San Diego Chargers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Diego Chargers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

A great head coach can elevate an NFL team above the rest of the pack and unfortunately for the LA Chargers, the team has had far more mediocre to bad head coaches than great ones.

That is part of the reason why the Chargers are one of several teams in the league without a Super Bowl win. The Chargers simply have not had the right combination of coaching and talent even though the team has had some great coaches, and some equally-talented rosters.

Coming off arguably the most exciting hire in franchise history, it is a good time for fans to look back at every person that has earned the moniker of Chargers head coach. In total, the franchise has had 19 different head coaches lead the team.

Every Chargers head coach ever:

Sid Gillman: 1960-1969, 1971

Sid Gillman had two stints as the head coach of the Chargers. The first coach in franchise history stepped away from the game because of his health halfway through the 1969 season only to return as the coach at the start of the 1971 season.

Gillman's coaching tree is still sprouting today as current head coaches John Harbaugh, Doug Pederson, Sean McDermott, Brian Daboll, Mike Tomlin, Mike McCarthy and Andy Reid are all branches stemming from Gillman.

Charlie Waller: 1969-1970

Charlie Waller was the stopgap head coach between Gillman's two stints with the team. With Gillman still involved as the general manager, the Chargers went 9-7-3 in Waller's 19 games as head coach.

Harland Svare: 1971-1973

Harland Svare was originally hired to be the team's general manager but stepped in for the final four games of the season after Gillman coached the first 10. Svare would coach another 22 games with the Chargers before stepping down with a career 7-17-2 record.

Ron Waller: 1973

Ron Waller (no relation to Charlie) coached six games as the interim head coach for the Chargers after Svare stepped down. The Bolts went 1-5 in those games.

Tommy Prothro: 1974-1978

After 16 years coaching in college and two with the Los Angeles Rams, Tommy Prothro was hired to be the savior of a sinking ship in San Diego. Prothro was unable to put it together right away with a 21-39 record but he helped set the table for the next head coach to succeed.

Don Coryell: 1978-1986

The greatest coach in franchise history, Don Coryell revolutionized the entire sport. His Air Coryell offense completely reinvented the game itself and earned him a spot in Canton this past year. Coryell is second to only Gillman in both games coached and games won with the Bolts.

Al Saunders: 1986-1988

Following up Coryell was never going to be an easy task and it was ultimately one that Al Saunders couldn't handle. The bottom didn't completely drop out under Saunders but his 17-22 record was less than impressive. Saunders was replaced after a 6-10 season and went on to coach in the league until 2018.

Dan Henning: 1989-1991

Dan Henning spent three completely forgettable years as the Chargers head coach which were much different from the three years he spent at Boston College after leaving San Diego. Henning eventually resigned from Boston College after discovering a gambling scandal among his players.

Bobby Ross: 1992-1996

Bobby Ross is the only coach in franchise history to make the Super Bowl, doing so in 1994. Ross never had a losing season with the Chargers as 8-8 was the worst mark the team finished with under his watch. That led Ross to leave the Chargers for the Detroit Lions, where he never won a playoff game again.

Kevin Gilbride: 1997-1998

The step down from Ross to Kevin Gilbride was a big one. The Chargers instantly fell to 4-12 under Gilbride's watch and started 2-4 the following season before he was eventually fired. Gilbride has the shortest tenure for any non-interim head coach.

June Jones: 1998

June Jones was tapped in to be the interim head coach in 1998 after Gilbride was fired. The Chargers went 3-7 in his 10 games coached before the team hired a replacement the following year.

Mike Riley: 1999-2001

It looked like Mike Riley was going to right the ship and get the Chargers back on the right track. After two disappointing seasons, the Bolts went 8-8 in Riley's first season to set the table for the turn of the century. Y2K didn't end the world, but it did end Chargers fans' hopes as the team went 1-15 the following season. Riley still somehow got a third season and went 5-11 before being fired.

Marty Schottenheimer: 2002-2006

Chargers fans are still upset about this as the team fired Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-2 season in 2006. The Bolts lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round due to some truly bad luck and it was enough to get Schotteneimer fired. That 14-2 team is, by far, the best team in Chargers franchise history.

Norv Turner: 2007-2012

Norv Turner was fighting an uphill battle as the guy who followed Marty Schottenheimer and that has twisted how some fans perceive his tenure with the Bolts, even today. Turner made it farther than Schottenheimer did in the playoffs and he coached some really great Chargers teams. After three great years followed by three years of mediocre play, the Bolts moved on.

Mike McCoy: 2013-2016

Even though the Chargers snuck into the playoffs as an 9-7 team in 2013, Mike McCoy's tenure with the team is not remembered fondly. After another 9-7 season in 2014, the Chargers went a combined 9-23 in McCoy's final two years. This period was Philip Rivers' prime, and unfortunately, it was wasted.

Anthony Lynn: 2017-2020

Anthony Lynn coached one of the most exciting teams in recent franchise history in 2018. Lynn also had to lead the locker room during the tulmutious move to Los Angeles and he did a commendable job. However, by the time 2020 rolled around, it was clear that the Bolts just needed a new voice to lead the team.

Brandon Staley: 2021-2023

Things started off great for Brandon Staley, who quickly won the fanbase over with his aggressive decision-making on fourth downs. However, as time went on, Staley's defensive schemes were exposed and the locker room seemingly bought less and less into what he was selling. A historic blown playoff lead and a 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders are now his legacy with the Bolts.

Giff Smith: 2023

Giff Smith was tapped in to be the interim head coach after Staley was fired and he did his job perfectly. The Chargers lost every single game with Smith as the interim head coach, allowing the team to climb the draft board to the fifth overall pick.

Jim Harbaugh: 2024-present

While there have been some good coaches in franchise history, no coach has brought the same kind of aura with him that Jim Harbaugh is bringing the Bolts in 2024. Harbaugh is starting a new era in Los Angeles and given his history, he could become the first coach in franchise history to win the Super Bowl.