49ers' Harbaugh back to work after heart procedure

49ers' Harbaugh back to work after heart procedure

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jim Harbaugh practically galloped through the locker room, lively as ever, offering a wave and a smile to long snapper Brian Jennings before putting his arm around right guard Alex Boone.

The San Francisco 49ers coach was back at work Friday and fired up to be there a day after undergoing a minor procedure for an irregular heartbeat that kept him away for all of half a day.

``I'm fine, I'm fine,'' Harbaugh said. ``No limits. Going about everything as normal. Had a little irregular heartbeat. I've had that before. Now that I have the procedure, a cardiovert, it's amazing. It gets the heart rate back to normal. Atrial flutter is something I've had for a while, most of my life.''

The reigning NFL Coach of the Year returned to the field to lead San Francisco through a morning walk-through session, with a full practice scheduled for the afternoon. He did stop by for the final hour of Thursday's practice for a ``little bit'' of coaching but ``more standing.''

``It was pretty cool to see him,'' safety Donte Whitner said. ``We knew it was a minor heart thing, but a heart thing no matter if it's minor, it's serious. It felt a little different without him. Hopefully, he doesn't have to go through it again.''

Harbaugh, who turns 49 on Dec. 23, was away from the team Thursday for his procedure at Stanford Hospital after undergoing tests Wednesday night. Several players said Friday they were initially scared for their coach, who acknowledged Friday that he underwent a similar procedure called an ``ablation'' 13 years ago while still playing during a 15-year NFL career at quarterback.

``He's an intense person,'' fullback Bruce Miller said. ``It's definitely a serious issue already with his heart. He's not going to slow down. We're glad he's back.''

Doctors talked to Harbaugh about improving his diet and cutting down on caffeine. He said he also will take aspirin and other medication. Whether he could need a follow-up procedure down the road, Harbaugh doesn't know.

``They'll evaluate it as it goes,'' he said.

His father, Jack, and older brother, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, both encouraged him to ``listen to the doctors and eat right.''

Does he consider himself coachable when it comes to his health?

``Sure, absolutely,'' said Harbaugh, whose NFC West-leading Niners (6-2-1) host the Chicago Bears (7-2) in a key NFC showdown on Monday Night Football. ``You're not going to be stubborn like a mule.''

His players had some fun with Harbaugh once they knew he was OK.

``He gets fined $500,'' linebacker NaVorro Bowman said with a grin. ``He missed meetings.''

Earlier this fall, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker missed 11 games late in the regular season, hospitalized because of a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat. He returned to manage the Reds in the playoffs, a five-game division series loss to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Harbaugh said he isn't worried about burning out with the rigorous year-round schedule and pressures on an NFL coach.

``I don't foresee that, no,'' he said. ``I'm just glad to be back at work, glad to be preparing for this ballgame.''

Concern for Harbaugh's health reached his old Stanford campus, too.

``Pretty scary stuff, but it sounds like he's doing OK now,'' Cardinal coach David Shaw said. ``And if I know Jim Harbaugh, it's going to take a lot more than that to stop Captain Comeback.''

Running back Frank Gore certainly doesn't expect the excitable Harbaugh, who regularly becomes red-faced and angry at officials, to stray from his approach.

``He's going to be him,'' Gore said. ``Coach is a tough guy.''

And Harbaugh didn't seem to mind a little bit of good-natured razzing from his guys.

``We had to,'' defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. ``He's the guy you never think is going to get sick. He's good. We got him out there joking and laughing. He's in good spirits. It's good for him to be back on the field.''

Notes: Harbaugh said QB Alex Smith's status for Monday is still unknown as he works back from a concussion, and he will be evaluated again by a neurologist. Backup Colin Kaepernick is getting a ``little bit more work than normal,'' Harbaugh said. ``Alex seems like things are progressing as it does.'' Smith practiced in a non-contact black jersey for the third straight day. ... RB Brandon Jacobs said his series of Twitter posts Thursday in which he referenced never working ``in a place where you hate your boss so much, you should always be happy at work'' were not directed at Harbaugh but rather toward the unstable work environment of his big brother, Michael. ``I don't look at him as my boss. He's our coach and leader,'' Jacobs said. ``I look at (GM) Trent Baalke as the boss.'' Jacobs - who hasn't played all season - also revealed he has long had an irregular heartbeat, and that the 49ers are aware of it. ... The NFL fined DT Ray McDonald $21,000 for a third-quarter hit on Rams QB Sam Bradford in Sunday's 24-24 tie.

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AP Sports Writer Antonio Gonzalez contributed to this story from Stanford.

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NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

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NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

The NFL has decided on the locations of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls. The vote took place at the NFL owners meetings in Charlotte on Tuesday. 

Atlanta will host Super Bowl LIII in 2019, while South Florida (Miami) will get the event in 2020 and Los Angeles will host in 2021. 

The cities chosen each included new or upgraded stadiums in their pitches to the league. 

Atlanta will be home to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, opening in 2017. 

Miami's stadium (Sun Life Stadium from 2010-2016) is undergoing a $400 million renovation that will include an open-air canopy to provide shade for 92 percent of seats, according to Sports Illustrated. Construction should be complete before the 2017 season. 

And Los Angeles will boast a new 300-acre, campus-style stadium housing the Rams and potentially a second team. The $2.6 billion project will be the most expensive sports arena in the world, reports CNN, and should be ready before the 2019 NFL season. 

AFC North: Bengals' Eifert expected to miss three months due to surgery

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AFC North: Bengals' Eifert expected to miss three months due to surgery

Bengals Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert will undergo ankle surgery, according to multiple reports.

Estimates varied on when Eifert would return, but he was not expected to be back on the field until at least mid-August.

Eifert suffered his injury at the Pro Bowl, which he left wearing a walking boot.

His ankle has not responded to treatment as well as Eifert hoped, and he could not join his teammates for OTA’s this week.

A first-round pick in 2013 (21st overall), Eifert led all NFL tight ends with 13 touchdown catches last season, and had 52 catches overall for 615 yards. Still only 25 years old, Eifert has emerged as a major weapon for the Bengals, and they have already picked up his fifth-year option.

The priority for the Bengals is to have Eifert ready for Week 1 when they visit the Jets. Ryan Hewitt, Tyler Kroft, and C. J. Uzomah will see plenty of reps at tight end until Eifert returns.

RELATED: THREE REASONS WHY JOE FLACCO CAN RETURN TO THE TOP

 

NFL owners vote for modest changes to replay, shun overhaul

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NFL owners vote for modest changes to replay, shun overhaul

The NFL made modest changes to replay rules Tuesday, but did not institute major changes that some teams, including the Ravens, had proposed in recent months.

Owners voted for changes that slightly increased situations where plays can be reviewed, and when officials can turn to the league office for help during games.

Situations subject to replay review, which were not before, include:

- Penalty enforcement

- Proper down

- Spot of a foul

- Status of game clock

Plays not reviewable in the past, that can now be reviewed, include:

- Where a ball in the air crosses the sideline.

- Whether a player was blocked into a loose ball.

- Advancement by a player after either a valid, or invalid, fair catch signal.

- Whether player impetus forced a ball to travel into the end zone.

The Ravens made a proposal in March that would have made all plays reviewable except for offensive and defensive holding, offensive and defensive pass interference, illegal contact, illegal use of hands, and whether a quarterback, receiver, or kicker had been hit illegally. The Patriots had previously proposed that all plays be made reviewable, but that has also been resisted by the owners and the competition committee.

Each team will still be given two replay challenges per game, and will be awarded a third challenge only if the first two are successful.