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Harbaugh undergoing follow-up evaluation on heart

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Harbaugh undergoing follow-up evaluation on heart

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had an appointment Tuesday for a follow-up evaluation with doctors after undergoing a minor procedure last Thursday for an irregular heartbeat.

The 49ers canceled Harbaugh's scheduled media conference call minutes before it was to begin Tuesday afternoon, a day after San Francisco's 32-7 victory over the Chicago Bears, but gave no indication that there is anything of further concern with Harbaugh's health in addition to what he went through last week. The 49ers released a schedule with Harbaugh set for his usual Wednesday news conference.

Harbaugh, the reigning NFL Coach of the Year who turns 49 next month, was candid about the ``cardiovert'' - or an electrical shocking of the heart to treat an irregular heartbeat and restore its rhythm to a normal pattern - he had done at Stanford Hospital after being evaluated last Wednesday night. He has had the condition for most of his life, he said, and was told to improve his diet and cut back on his caffeine intake.

Harbaugh was his typical energetic self on the sideline Monday night with the NFC West-leading Niners (7-2-1), who have a quick turnaround for Sunday's game at New Orleans in a rematch of the NFC divisional playoff game won in a 36-32 thriller by San Francisco at Candlestick Park last January.

What was supposed to be an NFC showdown with the Bears on Monday quickly turned into a rout, with backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick leading the way on a night starter Alex Smith watched from the sideline recovering from a concussion.

Harbaugh - whose team improved to 5-1 in prime time and 3-0 on ``Monday Night Football'' since he took over before the 2011 season - improved his regular-season coaching record to 20-5-1 and became the fastest active NFL coach to reach 20 victories by reaching the mark in 26 games.

He could face a tough decision on who to start under center against the Saints (5-5).

Kaepernick went 16 for 23 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and an impressive passer rating of 133.1 in his first NFL start. The second-year pro, a second-round draft pick out of Nevada in 2011, hardly seemed fazed by football's big stage. He directed scoring drives on the Niners' initial four possessions and completed 12 of his first 14 passes with a 57-yard throw to Kyle Williams that set up Vernon Davis' 3-yard TD on the next play.

``Thought Colin did an outstanding job,'' Harbaugh said after the game. ``Poise in the pocket, pushing the ball and throwing with accuracy. Did a nice job running the game plan. Everything he did was exemplary, again.''

Harbaugh said he would go with the ``hot hand'' at quarterback, but acknowledged he has a pair of hot hands at the moment in Smith and Kaepernick.

Not that any of his players were about to start predicting who might get the nod come Sunday at the raucous Superdome.

``That's up to the coaches,'' Davis said. ``That's their decision. I'll let them decide and they always call the shots.''

Kaepernick earned the respect of his teammates, all right. He credited them for supporting him all week as he prepared to start in place of Smith, who was injured in a 24-24 tie against the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 11.

Kaepernick also threw a 10-yard TD pass to Michael Crabtree in the third quarter.

``I'm not worried about Kaep,'' Crabtree said. ``He's a gamer, he knows one speed and that's go. We know that. It was a great team win.''

With Alex Smith's status still unclear, a pair of Smiths on the other side of the ball are doing their part - Justin Smith and Aldon Smith.

Aldon Smith recorded 5 1/2 sacks of the six San Francisco had against Bears backup Jason Campbell, and he has the NFL lead with 15. Smith also stripped Campbell in the end zone for a safety.

``I really just try to make people respect my power,'' Smith said. ``I didn't sense that I was going to go out there and get a bunch of sacks, but I wanted to go out there and make some plays.''

Running back Frank Gore gets a good look at the imposing linebacker every day in practice.

``One of the best at the position, if not the best,'' Gore said. ``He works hard every day and he'll go get them.''

Notes: The 49ers announced they signed safety Eddie Whitley to the practice squad. ... The 49ers defense held the Bears to 143 total yards - 85 rushing, 58 passing - for the second-lowest total in the NFL this year.

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What's next for Barry Trotz?

What's next for Barry Trotz?

Barry Trotz is no longer the head coach of the Washington Capitals and, after resigning Monday afternoon, he is officially free to pursue other opportunities.

So what's next for the now former Capitals head coach?

For those who believe Trotz will simply retire, that seems unlikely. Trotz is only 55 years old.

General manager Brian MacLellan indicated the main issue in the contract negotiations between him and Trotz was term. If Trotz was, in fact, seeking a five-year contract, that doesn't sound like someone who is ready to walk away from the game.

There is only one head coaching vacancy left in the NHL, that of the New York Islanders. New President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello cleaned house after getting hired and fired both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight earlier in June.

Now, suddenly, there is a Stanley Cup-winning coach on the market.

While it certainly makes sense for the Islanders to pursue Trotz, there's one big reason why Trotz, or anyone, would likely be hesitant to accept the job on Long Island and that is John Tavares.

New York's franchise player is a pending free agent and, until his contract situation is resolved, convincing anyone to take the head coaching job with the Islanders is a tough sell. If the Islanders re-sign Tavares, improve the defense and bring in a dependable starting goalie, then there is no reason to think they cannot be a playoff team.

But those are a lot of "ifs" and Tavares is a big one. If he goes, suddenly the situation on Long Island is much different. Tavares' decision could be the difference between the Islanders being a playoff team or getting a high lottery pick.

For Trotz to walk away from a team that just won the Stanley Cup to go to a New York team that may or may not have its best player back next season does not make a lot of sense.

But just because there may be only one head coaching vacancy open doesn't mean Trotz does not have any options.

The 2017-18 season saw no head coaching changes made during the season for the first time since the league expanded in 1967. Chances are jobs will begin to open up during the season especially if those teams believe they can land a Cup-winning coach as a replacement.

If you're Trotz, you just won a Stanley Cup. There is no reason to rush into another opportunity. Trotz will instantly be near or at the top of every wish list for teams in need of a head coach.

Don't just assume that Trotz will be on Long Island to start the 2018-19 season just because it is the only opportunity currently available. He can wait for the perfect opportunity to come to him.

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

With word out that Kawhi Leonard wants a trade from the Spurs, teams are lining up with offers to San Antonio and one of the NBA’s best teams has reportedly already made a call.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have contacted the Spurs about a potential Leonard trade, according to Cleveland.com. Terry Pluto wrote on Sunday that multiple teams have done the same. That is to expected, of course, as Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. He's a two-time defensive player of the year and he's only 26.

Let's look at Cleveland as a potential destination. It should first be noted that it's questionable whether they have enough to land a player of Leonard's caliber. They have the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft, but it may take a lot more than that to get Leonard.

They also have Kevin Love, who is an All-Star still in his prime. But if they gave him up, they would then need to seek more help to surround Leonard and LeBron James, if James decides to stay. Though James and Leonard are both top-five players in the NBA, they still likely wouldn't be able to beat the Warriors unless they had another running mate. Those two plus Love and then you're talking.

Whether the Cavs have the goods to land Leonard or not, it's no wonder why they are trying for him. Getting Leonard, a two-time All-NBA selection, would likely be enough to retain James, the best player in the game. If James were to look around the league for a top-shelf running mate, he would be hard-pressed to find one better than Leonard.

That is assuming Leonard is healthy, of course. He did miss all but nine games this past season with a quadriceps injury. That injury was central in a saga of discord between him and the team. Until he hits the court again, Leonard offers no guarantees. Still, he may be worth the risk for Cleveland, as the alternative is potentially seeing James walk. 

If the Cavs got Leonard, that would probably solidify their standing as the best team in the Eastern Conference, even if they lost Love in the process. Leonard is better than Love and they would arguably have the two best players in the East. They may not have enough to beat the Warriors, but that would likely give them the edge over the young teams like Boston and Philly that have been nipping at their heels.

Sending Leonard to the Cavs would get him out of the Western Conference and that might be enticing to the Spurs. If they send him to the Lakers, his reported preferred destination, that could come back to bite them much more often than it would if he was traded to the East. Though putting him in Cleveland would form another very good team, they wouldn't affect the Spurs directly but for two regular season games, unless they were to meet in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs haven't indicated they will actually trade Leonard, but it does seem to be heading in that direction. It sounds like Cleveland will at the very least give it a shot. 

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