Spanos: New GM can ‘build a winning football team’

SAN DIEGO — The Chargers announced Wednesday that Tom Telesco has been hired as the team’s general manager, replacing A.J. Smith.

Telesco, who was the vice president of football operations for the Indianapolis Colts, beat out 17-year Chargers employee Jimmy Raye for the job. San Francisco 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble was also reportedly interviewed.

Telesco, 40, was with the Colts for 15 years, beginning his tenure in Indianapolis as an area scout.

Chargers president Dean Spanos said at a news conference that Telesco is highly respected among his peers, hard-working, honest, humble, engaging and an excellent communicator.

“But most importantly, he knows how to build a winning football team,” Spanos said.

Telesco said he was attracted to the family atmosphere around the organization fostered by Spanos, and a “rabid, passionate fan base” in San Diego.

“Our goal here is to create a culture and a foundation for consistent winning, and we’re going to get there,” Telesco said.

His first duty will be to hire a new head coach. Norv Turner and Smith were let go on Dec. 31, following a 7-9 season for the Chargers that was marked by a significant drop in attendance.

He said he will look for a teacher, communicator and leader for the job, and doesn’t care whether he has head coaching experience or comes from an offensive or defensive background.

He also said he has not discussed the open position with Bruce Arians, the Colts offensive coordinator who filled in while head coach Chuck Pagano was treated for cancer in the fall. Arians was reportedly a leading candidate for the Chargers coaching job even before Telesco was hired.

Pagano’s brother, John, was the Chargers defensive coordinator in 2012.