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Harbaugh Has San Diego Charge

Jim Harbaugh's impact is already being felt by the San Diego Chargers, even though he doesn't officially join the team until Monday.

This is, after all, a team that's desperate to win.

Linebacker Lew Bush, part of the NFL's top-rated defense last season, thinks Harbaugh will be a better fit than Warren Moon, who shopped his services to the Chargers several weeks back.

"With the kind of line we have, and with our running game, now we have a legitimate offense and a chance," Bush said Thursday. "That's all we need."

Even Darren Perry, the Chargers' new starting free safety who was introduced to the media on Thursday, spoke highly of Harbaugh.

"I'm glad he's on my side now," Perry said. "Jim's a tremendous quarterback. He's going to win some ballgames for us. There are some things he can do that you just can't teach to a lot of quarterbacks."

Harbaugh's contract has been reworked to fit under the Chargers' salary cap. The only thing left to complete his acquisition from the Baltimore Ravens is for him to take a physical on Monday. A news conference has been set for late Monday morning.

Harbaugh, 35, was due to be paid $3.25 million in 1999. He agreed to a deal with San Diego that will pay him $2.75 million over two seasons, plus incentives. The Chargers, who haven't had a winning season since 1995, agreed Monday to send the Ravens a conditional fifth-round draft pick in 2000.

Adding to the offense, the Chargers (5-11 last year) signed free agent wide receiver Jeff Graham to a one-year deal.

Perry, a starter with the Pittsburgh Steelers since his rookie season of 1992, remembered the AFC championship game in January 1996, when Harbaugh's Indianapolis Colts fell one incomplete pass short of going to the Super Bowl.

"We sacked him five or six times, and I look up at the clock and there's 10 seconds left, and they're on the 35-yard line with a chance to go to the Super Bowl," Perry said. "He didn't quit. He kept coming back."

Harbaugh is expected to help in the development of Ryan Leaf, who was benched nine games into his rookie season.

"That was a major, major move if you want Ryan to emulate somebody," Bush said. "He's a tremendous competitor. You know what you're going to get out there, and I'm looking forward to playing with him."

Even though Harbaugh has all but been named the starter for the season opener, Leaf shouldn't go into training camp thinking this will be a learning year, Bush said.

"He has to go in and compete like everyone else. It'a humbling experience to get that kind of contract and struggle through the kind of year he went through."

Perry, meanwhile, said he's been asked why he wanted to join a team coming off a bad season.

"So many things determine the outcome of a game, and they were right there," said Perry, who will join a defense that was ranked No. 1 overall and against the run. "The defense was impressive. It's a great situation for me to come into."

Perry agreed last Friday to a two-year contract worth approximately $3.2 million.

Also Thursday, Chargers officials said All-Pro linebacker Junior Seau had minor shoulder surgery last week. General manager Bobby Beathard said Seau should be OK for the bulk of offseason workouts.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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