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Smith practices for 49ers in non-contact jersey

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Smith practices for 49ers in non-contact jersey

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Alex Smith insists it's too early to guess whether he will return from a concussion in time to start at quarterback in San Francisco's key Monday night NFC showdown against the Chicago Bears.

The decision is not up to him, anyway.

Smith went through position work with the NFC West-leading 49ers (6-2-1) in a non-contact black jersey Wednesday, his status still unclear after he sustained a concussion in the second quarter Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

``I feel good, better,'' Smith said Wednesday in his first comments since the injury. ``I'm just going along with the process right now. Nothing's been decided. It's a whole long process that's up to the doctors. I just kind of do what they tell me. Contact obviously is the final straw.''

Coach Jim Harbaugh kept a watchful eye on Smith from several yards away as he worked with backup Colin Kaepernick and No. 3 QB Scott Tolzien to get his reps.

Smith had to pass concussion tests given by a neurologist - he went to Stanford on Monday - to get this far and return to the practice field, but there are still further steps in the process for him to be medically cleared for game action.

``Right now it looks like Alex will be our quarterback for sure,'' optimistic tight end Vernon Davis said. ``I would think so. With all those concussions, you can't really tell, but he was out there and threw the ball around a little bit.''

Smith said he experienced blurred vision on a 1-yard quarterback sneak early in the second quarter of Sunday's 24-24 tie. But six plays earlier, he scrambled to his left and started to slide before turning when St. Louis linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar hit him in the back of the neck with 1:10 left in the first quarter. Smith briefly grabbed his face mask and grimaced but stayed in the game.

He isn't sure whether that hit contributed to the concussion, because he didn't experience any symptoms right away.

``It's all speculation. It certainly didn't help,'' Smith said. ``Talking to the neurologist, it probably contributed, for sure. Whether it loosens you up for the next one, I don't know. I felt fine after that though. The sneak was definitely when I came up and my eyesight went wrong.''

So, just how did he manage to complete all three passes he threw afterward with blurred vision, including a 14-yard touchdown to Michael Crabtree?

``That's a great question,'' Smith said. ``No idea. It certainly wasn't like I was blind.''

But he was hurting.

Smith said he experienced headaches and nausea with the concussion, and the symptoms were ``more severe'' than what he felt after a concussion last season against Dallas in the team's home opener. By Monday morning after sleeping overnight, Smith said he had improved.

``It's tough to describe. For me, the vision was the biggest thing, for sure,'' Smith said. ``I've taken a lot of hits over the years, and to try to play quarterback when you're vision is not what it should be was difficult,'' Smith said. ``For me, ultimately it didn't get better. It wasn't one of those things I could blink off and my focus was returning. I went on the sidelines and sat down and it seemed to get worse. It wasn't getting better. It was not good for the team to go out there. I didn't think I could help us much.''

Second-year backup Colin Kaepernick took over for the second series in the second quarter and rallied the Niners in the fourth quarter, even running for a 7-yard touchdown. He finished 11 for 17 for 117 yards with three sacks.

He is approaching as if he will start against the Bears - the same way he prepares every week.

``Same reps as always. Nothing really changes,'' Kaepernick said. ``I've always been out there preparing myself to start.''

The rest of the 49ers aren't worrying about who will be quarterback, just preparing for the stingy Bears defense.

``Whoever's behind center, we'll be ready to go,'' left tackle Joe Staley said.

Notes: RB Frank Gore said he had his sore ribs examined again after the Rams game and is feeling OK. ... K David Akers, who last season set an NFL single-season record with 44 field goals, is only 15 for 21 this season. He missed a 41-yarder wide left in overtime against the Rams. ``I'll stand up in good times and bad,'' Akers said. ``I'm going to give it everything I have.''

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How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

The fat lady wasn’t warming up to sing an operatic number, not with 66 games left in the regular season. Then the flailing Washington Wizards, coming off consecutive double-digit losses, came out flat yet again. They trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 19 points at halftime some 36 hours after the general public heard about their private quarrels and following weeks of basketball nightmares. 

So, she might have at least begun some mental prep for an upcoming performance. Then came the comeback within the comeback. The Wizards rallied for a 125-118 win when all the world was ready to say sayonara. 

Did Washington indeed save its season by outscoring Los Angeles 71-45 in the second half?

Answering 'yes' presumes all is right with the gang that has struggled to defend throughout the season and possibly has chemistry issues even a family therapist couldn’t fix with thrice-weekly sessions. 

The day began with coach Scott Brooks and the team’s stars addressing leaks of intense arguments among players and a scolding by All-Star John Wall directed to the head coach. There was no spark initially, just a dismal first half that saw them down 24 points and 73-54 at halftime.

The first half served as a season-long microcosm. It’s why rumors of breaking up the team seemed plausible. 

Over the remaining 24 minutes, the Wizards finally woke up. They flew around the court defensively and passed to the open man. The stars played like a team wanting to play each other, willing to do whatever necessary for a win.

John Wall finished with 30 points. Bradley Beal scored 27. Otto Porter grabbed 14 rebounds to go with 11 points. Six players scored in double figures. Everybody ate. 

“That’s how we need to play,” Bradley Beal told NBC Sports Washington.

“Not going to say everything is fixed because we were still down [24 points], still have a lot of work to do. Got a lot of to change and get better. Our effort was there in the second half. That’s the type of intensity we have to have for the full 48.”

Numerous moments and performances stood out in the second half beyond the main players. Tomas Satoransky’s hustle helped begin the turnaround. Thomas Bryant, who started with Dwight Howard sidelined, provided interior energy. Jeff Green dropped 20 points. Markieff Morris, coming off the bench for the first time since Feb. 29, 2016, showed more than in recent games.

One play deep in the fourth quarter showed the difference between 16 games of defensive slumber and Tuesday’s resolve. 

The clock ticked under five minutes with Los Angeles leading 109-107. Clippers forward Tobias Harris crushed the Wizards early and finished with 29 points. He had the ball near the left corner when Wall and Beal sprung an aggressive trap as the shot clock wound down. Morris hustled for support. The late arrival helped. Shot clock violation. The Wizards then took the lead with a Morris 3-pointer. They soon pulled away with an 11-2 run. Their main players showed the way.

“We have to,” Beal said to NBC Sports Washington. “When it’s coming from the main guys. John and I have to give more, more and more. That’s something we realize and tell each other that. That’s that only way we’re going to get out of it. We just have to give more.”

The Thanksgiving holiday provides a natural break.

Washington resumes game action Friday at Toronto. At 6-11, the Wizards have to do, but at least they can catch their breath after a surreal span. 

“It’s a whirlwind. It’s a whirlwind,” said Beal, who remained in the game after suffering a cut over his eye following a head-butt collision with Clippers guard Tyrone Wallace. “We embrace it. Everything is a challenge. It’s adversity. We’ve been in this situation before. We’ve been in this situation where everybody thinks we have an issue. I think we did a great job of ignoring it as best we could. Doing what we could to get a win. A  much-needed win at that.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers monitors the Wizards because of his son, Austin, Beal’s primary backup. More film work came leading into the second meeting between the teams. Los Angeles hammered Washington 136-104 on Oct. 28. Things were only getting worse for the Wizards. Then came the second half.

“They just forgot about the stuff they’re going through and got back to playing basketball,” Doc Rivers said of the Wizards.

“I’ve always thought that’s what you have to do. Every guy out there on both teams, they played basketball all their lives. Then you get all the, what I call ‘stuff.’ The clutter starts affecting your game. Tonight you could see the clutter was killing them early. Then when they saw they had a chance to win, they started playing basketball again.”

Assume nothing but sunshine and swishes going forward if you must. Ideally, the Wizards do not. They have work remaining. In the second half against the Clippers, Wall, Beal, and crew rose up. In doing so, the fat lady took a seat.

We’ll see for how long.

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Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

The Wizards had just completed a 24-point comeback against the L.A. Clippers, but something wasn't sitting right with power forward Markieff Morris.

When asked by a reporter if it was nice to get the win given their recent losing and the media controversy surrounding the team, Morris couldn't help but wonder who it was who leaked comments made by players behind closed doors at a practice last week.

There were very specific quotes cited by several media outlets and Morris wants to know where they came from. 

"It's f***ed up what's going on," he said.

"The comments that's coming from the locker room, that's f***ed up."

Morris went on to say that anonymous sources leaking information shouldn't "happen in sports." Many professional athletes see the locker room and team-only events like practice as sacred. Anyone who breaks that code is, in their eyes, a traitor.

If Morris knew who the information came from, it sounds like he would do something about it.

"I don't know who it is, so it's hard to address. But it's messed up," he said.

Which player or member of the organization spilled the beans could be a question for this team all season. It doesn't sound like Morris will forget that it happened.

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