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Bears interview Ballard, Pace

The Bears continued their search for a general manager Wednesday, interviewing Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard and Saints director of player personnel Ryan Pace.

Before joining the Chiefs in 2013, Ballard spent 11 seasons as a Bears area scout from 2001-11 before serving as the team's director of pro scouting in 2012. As a scout, he helped the Bears draft Pro Bowlers Kyle Long, Johnny Knox, Kyle Fuller, Tommie Harris and Nathan Vasher.

Prior to joining the Bears, Ballard spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville, tutoring receivers in 1994 and defensive backs from 1995-99 before serving as defensive coordinator in 2000. Ballard played four seasons at Wisconsin.

Pace has spent the last 13 seasons with the Saints, working as a scouting assistant (2002-03), pro scout (2004-06) and director of pro scouting (2007-12) before becoming the team's director of player personnel in 2013.

Pace has helped the Saints make the playoffs four of the last six seasons, beginning in 2009 when they won the Super Bowl. He was a four-year letterman as a defensive end at Eastern Illinois, where he served as a team captain as a senior.

The Bears have now interviewed four candidates for the general manager position. On Tuesday, they spoke to Texans director of pro personnel Brian Gaine and Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson.

Gaine has 16 years of NFL experience. He joined the Texans in 2014 after spending the previous six seasons with the Dolphins, serving as Miami's assistant general manager in 2012-13.

Gaine previously worked with the Cowboys as assistant director of pro scouting from 2005-07 after spending six years with the Jets in scouting and player development.

Dawson has spent the last eight seasons with the Titans, serving as director of pro personnel from 2007 until 2011, when he was promoted to his present role, vice president of player personnel.  

Dawson previously worked with the Seahawks from 2001-06, beginning as a pro personnel assistant and closing his tenure in Seattle as assistant director of pro personnel.

Dawson played four NFL seasons as a receiver with the Chiefs after being selected by Kansas City in the third round of the 1994 draft out of Notre Dame. He appeared in 43 career games with 26 starts, catching 103 passes for 1,406 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Bears are seeking replacements for general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman, both of whom were relieved of their duties Dec. 29.

The team prefers to hire a general manager first so that he would be involved in hiring the coach. But the Bears interviewed two coaching candidates last week in Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn because NFL rules provide only a one-week window for coaches of teams that have first-round playoff byes to be interviewed.

Assistants whose teams advance to the Super Bowl can be interviewed again during the week immediately following the conference championship games—but only if they had a first interview with that team. In other words, if Gase and/or Quinn reach the Super Bowl, the Bears wouldn't have been able to interview them the week after the conference title games if they hadn't interviewed them last week.

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