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Bears’ coaching search includes Lions’ Teryl Austin

Ryan Pace’s first job as the Bears’ new general manager may be his toughest and most important: He’s got to find the right coach.

“Right now, that is the most critical thing I am doing,” Pace said Friday at Halas Hall. “I’m not going to get into specific candidates, but I can assure you I understand the importance of decision.”

Some candidates are already known. Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was Pace’s first interview on Thursday. The Bears also updated Pace about their interviews with Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn from last week.

After Pace’s introductory press conference, one more name joined his list.

A league source confirmed that the Bears have requested to speak with Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. He’s not expected to interview until next week.

The Lions had one of the best defenses in the NFL this season. The Lions ranked second in yards allowed and were tied for second in scoring defense.

Pace has the final say on the next Bears coach, but chairman George McCaskey, president Ted Phillips and consultant Ernie Accorsi also will be included in the search.

“There’s an urgency, no question,” Pace said. ‘I think about the Senior Bowl a lot – that’s important. But I don’t think that overrides getting the right head coach.

“I’ll be at the Senior Bowl. We’ll have all our scouts there. I’m confident. But I don’t want that to rush is in our decision for a head coach.”

Contributing: Patrick Finley