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49ers preparing to face Packers in 2nd round

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49ers preparing to face Packers in 2nd round

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers are preparing for next week's division-round playoff game as if they already know their opponent.

With a first-round bye a trio of San Francisco scout teamers wore the jerseys numbers of key Green Bay Packers during Friday's practice.

They simulated top Green Bay wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson along with tight end Jermichael Finley as third-string 49ers quarterback Scott Tolzien tossed passes.

``There's definitely some game planning going on,'' said tight Garrett Celek, who swapped his usual No. 81 jersey for a red No. 88, which is Finley's number.

``Still, we're not sure who we're going to play. But since we have this week, we're taking advantage of it and getting certain things ready for whatever happens next week.''

The Packers, seeded third in the NFC, host No. 6 Minnesota on Saturday night. If Green Bay beats the Vikings, the Packers will play at San Francisco on Jan. 12.

Otherwise the 49ers (11-4-1) will host the winner of Sunday's game between fourth-seeded Washington and No. 5 Seattle.

Among the other 49ers in different uniform numbers: Chad Hall wore No. 18 (Cobb) and Ricardo Lockette dressed in No. 87 (Nelson).

``It's definitely helpful. We've faced those guys before and we have a potential of seeing those guys again,'' Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson said.

Typically, Ed Donatell, who coaches the secondary, and other defensive assistants bring practice squad wide receivers, tight ends and running backs into meetings to teach players tendencies of San Francisco's opponent that week. Offensive assistants will do the same for defensive players tagged for the ``look team.''

Players will take that knowledge onto the practice field against the first-team offense and defense to prepare the starters for the game. If nothing else, it gets players used to seeing the routes and numbers of their upcoming opponent.

The only difference this week is that the 49ers don't actually have an opponent.

``I think it's really important. We have all this time off, so you might as well take advantage of it,'' said Celek, the brother of Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek.

``I think to just sit on our butts and do nothing wouldn't be very smart. We've got to get ahead of the curve and I think this is a good way to do it.''

While the 49ers won't practice again until Monday, players will be tuned into this weekend's games.

Players said they'll be watching as casual observers, leaving the scouting for the film coaches to break down when they return to 49ers headquarters.

They also said it doesn't make a difference what team they face, though Washington would be the only possible opponent San Francisco hasn't seen yet.

The 49ers won 30-22 at Green Bay in Week 1. They split both games against the Seahawks, winning 13-6 in Week 7 at San Francisco and falling 42-13 at Seattle in Week 16 - the most lopsided loss of coach Jim Harbaugh's two-year tenure.

``It's all about consistency,'' left tackle Joe Staley said. ``You've got to do it again. What you did last time doesn't mean anything going into next game. We just have to continue to improve. We just got to be consistent and do it again. That's the challenge each and every week is just to build on any successes you had last week and change anything you didn't do well the week before. That's our focus.''

NOTES: DT Justin Smith practiced with a brace over his injured left arm for the second straight day. He is planning to play despite a partially torn triceps muscle that sidelined him for the final two regular-season games. ... David Akers and Billy Cundiff continued their kicking competition. Coach Jim Harbaugh stood behind them as they kicked without an offensive or defensive line during the portion of practice open to reporters. Both looked sharp, but Cundiff appeared to have considerably more pop off his kicks. ... RB Frank Gore watched practice from the sideline. ... LB Aldon Smith wore a black non-contact jersey.

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2019 NBA Draft: All the best and wildest draft suits from the red carpet in New York

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USA TODAY Imagn

2019 NBA Draft: All the best and wildest draft suits from the red carpet in New York

It's NBA Draft night! That means prospects are about to begin the most exciting time of their professional lives. It also means they're going to show up in wild, sometimes fly, sometimes ill-advised outfits on the red carpet. 

Here's a quick roundup of what everybody's rocking this year. 

Bol Bol, Oregon

Is this one of the boldest draft looks ever? Hard to top rhinestone spider webs. 

RJ Barrett, Duke

Bright pink suit, custom Canadian flag lining and spiked loafers. A whole lot of look for Barrett. 

Zion Williamson, Duke

Williamson went with a cream satin tuxedo without a tie. 

Cam Reddish, Duke

Reddish opted for a gold-on-black print jacket and black shirt and pants, finished off with a simple gold chain. 

This post will continue updating throughout the night

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Caps GM Brian MacLellan addresses latest Andre Burakovsky trade rumors

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Caps GM Brian MacLellan addresses latest Andre Burakovsky trade rumors

Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky dodges trade rumors like Indiana Jones escaped giant rolling stones.

When Burakovsky made it through the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline still with Washington it appeared he was here to stay a while longer. He even played better down the stretch. But that might not have been enough to save him. 

Multiple NHL sources said Wednesday that Burakovsky would likely be dealt at this weekend’s NHL Draft in Vancouver. There is no question he is drawing interest from teams around the league.  

“We'd like to keep him around, but obviously his name is out there a little bit, so we do talk to some teams about him,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a conference call on Thursday. “But we're not going to move him unless we get something we're comfortable with back.”

MacLellan, as blunt a general manager as there is in the NHL, might be employing semantics there. The Capitals are trying to get what they can and won’t undercut their own leverage by saying Burakovsky is out the door.

Burakovsky has frustrated coaches and executives alike in Washington. He flashes great potential and has the pedigree to be a solid middle-six forward. But he’s been stuck on 12 goals three years in a row and can’t seem to find a consistent role. Last year he was a healthy scratch six times. 

Injuries played some role in that in previous years. But Burakovsky hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities, either. Yet he has also come up with some incredible goals. Three times he’s scored in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. No one can forget his goals against Tampa Bay in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final that secured Washington’s trip to the Stanley Cup Final. He’s also entering his age-25 season and had 17 goals in his second season in the NHL. 

But with a $3.25 million qualifying offer due Monday and the salary cap possibly tighter than expected, Washington might not have a choice even if it has a last-second change of heart on trading Burakovsky. 

It’s not know exactly what kind of deal the Capitals are pursuing: A one-for-one deal with a player who has his own issues? A mix of draft picks and prospects who won’t contribute to a team in “win-now” mode? Washington could always pull back – as they did at the deadline. But without knowing what MacLellan feels he needs from a Burakovsky trade it’s hard to know what would give him another chance to stay.

MacLellan wouldn’t even commit to tendering Burakovsky that $3.25 million qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline. He said Washington will take a look at the salary cap once the NHL gets around to announcing it hopefully by Saturday at the draft. Then they’ll check back with the agents of all their RFAs – Jakub Vrana is safe - and decide how to proceed. 

But if they don’t qualify Burakovsky, the one other RFA they have the rights to who would draw interest around the league, he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere. Hard to see how that benefits the Capitals to lose an asset they claim to value for nothing. Time is running short.

“Andre had a frustrating year this year, but I think he finished it up well,” MacLellan said. “I think from the trade deadline on, I thought he had a good playoffs. We like the player. There's been some inconsistencies there, but when he's on his game, he's a good player.”

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