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49ers Harbaugh to have follow-up for irregular heartbeat

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Associated Press
11/20/2012 8:42:09 PM
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SAN FRANCISCO -- 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 cancelled 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 centre 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 defence held the Bears to 143 total yards -- 85 rushing, 58 passing -- for the second-lowest total in the NFL this year.

Jim Harbaugh  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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