Ron Rivera, Chicago's third-year defensive coordinator who played linebacker for the Bears' 1985 Super Bowl champion team, was the fourth candidate to interview for the job vacated by Marty Schottenheimer's sudden firing.
It was Rivera's eighth interview for a head coaching job in the last two years.
"Having gone through it now the last two postseasons, I think I'm more than ready," he said. "Sometimes you get in situations where you get anxious, you get excited, you get hopeful about things."
Also Friday, the Los Angeles Daily News reported that Southern California's Pete Carroll isn't interested in the Chargers' job.
"I like where I'm at. I'm not going anywhere," Carroll told the newspaper.
Others who've interviewed for the Chargers job are Mike Singletary, Rivera's teammate on the 1985 Bears who's now San Francisco's assistant head coach; Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, who was the Ravens' defensive line coach when they won the Super Bowl after the 2000 season; and Norv Turner, a two-time Super Bowl winner as Dallas' offensive coordinator in the early 1990s.
Turner has twice been fired as a head coach, at Washington and Oakland. He was San Diego's offensive coordinator in 2001.
It's believed that Mike Zimmer, recently hired as Atlanta's defensive coordinator after doing the same job for Dallas, will interview on Saturday. He was an assistant with Dallas when it won its most recent Super Bowl title, following the 1995 season. Gary Gibbs, a former Oklahoma head coach who is New Orleans' defensive coordinator, is expected to interview on Sunday.
Rivera said he hopes his experience will make the difference this time.
The Bears made it to the Super Bowl before losing two weeks ago to the Indianapolis Colts. Rivera was the linebackers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles when they made it to three straight NFC championship games, losing all three.
"Just experience," Rivera said. "I think that's invaluable in terms of being able to relate to the players, those type of things. Team building, having been part of two staffs going in and building a winning program. That's invaluable in terms of getting across to players, again, what it takes to get to the next level."
That's been a problem in San Diego dating back more than a decade.
Since shocking the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game in January 1995, the Chargers are 0-4 in the postseason, including a 49-26 Super Bowl loss to the San Francisco 49ers 12 years ago.
Schottenheimer led the Chargers to a 35-13 record and two AFC West titles the last three seasons, but the Chargers lost their opening playoff game both times.
The most recent loss was the most shocking, a 24-21 defeat to New England on Jan. 14 after the Chargers went an NFL-best 14-2.
Chargers president Dean Spanos fired Schottenheimer on Monday night, citing a "dysfunctional situation" between the coach and general manager A.J. Smith.
Rivera compared the Chargers to the 2005 Bears, who went 11-5 and earned a first-round playoff bye before losing to Carolina.
"You know, great expectations," Rivera said, mentioning that those Bears felt they could reach the NFC title game. "We did some things that we hadn't done all year. We didn't play up to our abilities. The same thing could be said for what happened here.
"Again, it's a very good football team. They've done a great job putting players in place and now they're looking for somebody to help get them over the hump."
Rivera knows that expectations will be high in San Diego next season.
"This is a 14-2 team that by a lot of people's opinion, and I share that opinion, is probably the best group of players that didn't get to the Super Bowl this year, for whateve reason.
"It'll be interesting to see how it all unfolds. Hopefully I'll get that opportunity."
Rivera was a finalist for the Pittsburgh job that went to Mike Tomlin, but did not get a second interview because the Steelers would have had to wait until the day after the Super Bowl to meet with him again. He also interviewed for openings in Miami, Atlanta, Arizona and Dallas.
He interviewed with the Cowboys two days after the Super Bowl. That job went to Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, whose departure apparently contributed to Schottenheimer's firing.
Spanos refused to be specific, but said Monday that the "process" of filling San Diego's staff vacancies led to Schottenheimer being fired. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was hired as Miami's head coach and two assistant coaches became coordinators elsewhere.
A year ago, Rivera interviewed for openings at Green Bay and St. Louis.