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Manningham a Super Bowl spectator for 49ers

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Manningham a Super Bowl spectator for 49ers

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Mario Manningham hobbled into the Superdome stands on crutches and found an out-of-the-way seat to watch his San Francisco teammates go through media day frenzy on the field below, his emotions mixed.

It's been nearly two weeks since the 49ers wide receiver underwent reconstructive surgery on his left knee and almost a year since he made the catch of his life in the New York Giants' Super Bowl victory.

Manningham hoped to be playing on the New Orleans turf Sunday, when the 49ers face the Baltimore Ravens in the franchise's first Super Bowl in 18 years and with a perfect 5-0 championship record to protect. Instead, the soft-spoken wideout could win another ring, this time as a spectator.

``Possibility,'' he said of capturing back-to-back titles. ``This is different for me right now. I'm not down, I just wish I could help my team. You're never down. It's not bitterness. It's not like I did something for me not to be out there. I'm not out there because of injury.''

Yet this is hardly how Manningham envisioned it when he left the Giants and headed out West to play for Jim Harbaugh and the team he helped beat in last year's NFC championship game.

He did his very best not to sound glum. The crutches and bulky knee brace said it for him Tuesday morning.

As much as Manningham wants to be out there to help the NFC champion Niners (13-4-1) this weekend in the Big Easy, he realizes it's rare enough just to return to the NFL's showcase in consecutive years - with different teams.

That's something special to take from this unique Super Bowl experience.

``I don't think that's by coincidence,'' fellow injured wide receiver Kyle Williams said. ``Mario's a great player. Any team that he gets on he's instantly going to make better.''

While having the appreciation of his teammates sure helps, that doesn't make it easier now. Not after that spectacular over-the-shoulder 38-yard catch between two defenders in which he managed to stay inbounds to start the game-winning, 88-yard touchdown drive in last season's 21-17 Super Bowl victory against New England.

The reception highlighted a five-catch day for 73 yards. Manningham also caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 8:34 remaining in regulation of the NFC title game to help New York reach the Super Bowl - beating the 49ers 20-17 in overtime on their home field of Candlestick Park.

All the big plays from his memorable 2012 postseason are still plenty fresh.

``I think about it,'' Manningham said. ``Good thing I got a chance to come back. There aren't too many players who leave one team and go back the next year.''

The 26-year-old Manningham had 39 catches for 523 yards and four touchdowns last year before leaving New York. He made 42 receptions for 449 yards and one touchdown in 12 games and 10 starts this season, his fifth in the NFL.

``Mario Manningham has his fingerprints all over our success, as do a lot of people,'' Harbaugh said. ``The players on our team, this is a shared thing. Everybody doing a little adds up to a lot.''

Manningham and Randy Moss joined the 49ers in the same week last March, significant upgrades by general manager Trent Baalke to a receiving corps that had just one catch for 3 yards in the 2012 NFC championship game.

His plan is to watch Sunday standing up, while keeping pressure off his knee. Manningham said there's no way could possibly sit down through a Super Bowl, even if his healing knee would be better for it.

``I'm going to be alright,'' he said. ``Injuries are part of the game, I'm not mad. I wish I was playing. Everything happens for a reason.''

Manningham hurt his knee in a 42-13 loss at Seattle on Dec. 23, tearing the anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments.

For now, he will offer up any insight he can for those teammates who haven't been to a Super Bowl - which is most of them.

``I know it's a big stage. We're going to treat it like it's just another game,'' Manningham said. ``I just tell them don't worry about the crowd. Don't worry about the crowd, because you are the only game that's going to be watched on Sunday, so there will be people watching and you're going to hear everything. You're going to see flashes and stuff. Just don't worry about it. Just go out there and play.''

For Manningham, getting back on the field - the goal is in time for the 2013 opener - is all about baby steps. Literally.

``It's going good. I started light walking on there a couple days ago,'' he said. ``Just trying to get stronger and come down here and root for my team.''

He typically uses just one crutch, but brought two for this trip considering how much he'll be moving around.

Next up in his rehab: wiggling his toes and doing quadriceps raises.

``That's the only thing I can right now,'' he said.

That, and hope for one more sparkly souvenir championship ring.

``I know that my team is going to win it,'' Manningham said. ``I would be wrong if I said they weren't.''

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Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

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USA Today Sports

Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

The Ravens have reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract extension with head coach John Harbaugh, a move already being praised by national pundits everywhere. 

It was nearly a month ago that the Ravens announced Harbaugh would be returning as the team’s head coach in 2019, which was noteworthy considering his status as a potential lame duck head coach.

In the same release, the team announced they were working towards a contract extension with Harbaugh, whose current deal was set to expire next year.

Despite reports from national NFL insiders, including Jason La Canfora and Peter King, that Harbaugh might prefer to hit free agency as a highly sought-after head coach after the 2019 season, it appears the Ravens will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. 

This news comes on the heels of a busier-than-usual coaching carousel, with a quarter of the 32 NFL teams changing head coaches in the last month, including two AFC North rivals. Harbaugh almost certainly would have been the cream of the crop among coaching free agents no matter when he became available, so the Ravens were looking to lock him up long term.

After a tough November home loss to the Steelers that put the team at 4-5, Harbaugh was asked about his job security, and he remained steadfast and confident.

"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."

After that game, the Ravens rattled off six wins in seven games to make the playoffs, and many players credited Harbaugh with keeping the team together. It was prior to Week 16 when the front office announced Harbaugh would be returning no matter how the season ended, but the strong finish and AFC North title certainly made the decision easier.

A coach with a special teams background, Harbaugh is an anomaly in the current era of young, offensive-minded head coaches. He won Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and holds a 104-72 career record in Baltimore.

The terms of the new deal have not yet been released, but it will be interesting how many years the team is committing to Harbaugh.

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Bradley Beal's agent says guard's not looking for a trade: 'He wants to win'

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Bradley Beal's agent says guard's not looking for a trade: 'He wants to win'

Bradley Beal, his agent Mark Bartlestein told Bleacher Report, would like to stay in Washington - even as he's a hot topic among front offices as the trade deadline approaches.

From Bleacher Report:

His agent, Mark Bartelstein, is not looking for a trade. "Brad wants to win, Bartelstein told B/R. "He wants to win at the highest level, and he wants to compete for championships. I think he's seeing progress, and he's going to do everything he can to lead this team. They got themselves into a huge hole, and he's going to do his best to get them out of it.

The Wizards are facing tough decisions when it comes to the future of the franchise as this season's trade deadline approaches. Beal, as NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig detailed this week, is among the most tradable assets they have, especially when it comes to their three major contracts. But owner Ted Leonsis took a firm stance against tanking while speaking to reporters in London, and Beal is integral to their playoff hopes with John Wall sidelined. 

This isn't the first time this season that Beal has denied wanting to be anywhere but DC. When drama swirled around the team earlier this season, Beal denied a report that he had requested a trade.

"That's nonsense," he said at the time. "I heard it earlier before the game and I was like, 'If it didn't come from the horse's mouth, it wasn't me.' I got this Washington jersey on and I come here and work everyday, you know, until otherwise. This is where I wanna be."

Earlier this season, it was reported that the Raptors were interested in Beal but couldn't afford what the Wizards were asking for him. According to the latest report on Beal from Bleacher Report, there are a number of teams who may still be interested. 

Again, from Bleacher Report:

There are so many teams in the mix trying to make that extra push that want Beal," a Western Conference executive told B/R.

But even if some fans are clamoring for a big trade at the deadline, the price tag for Beal - who had 26 points in the Wizards' comeback win over the Knicks this week - only seems to be rising. 

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