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Around the NFC West: Harbaugh's warning

Around the NFC West: Nov. 16, 2012

Jim Harbaugh's immediate success as San Francisco 49ers coach has insulated him from questions about the sustainability of his unrelenting approach.

I've heard NFL people raise those questions privately. Yes, Harbaugh is an outstanding coach, they would say, but his unrelenting intensity will wear out players and those around him at some point. It might take three years or five years. The 49ers might win a championship in the meantime. But people can take only so much of the mania, and if the 49ers ever did suffer through a down season, look out.

These could be the self-serving concerns of jealous competitors. But what if Harbaugh's own body is telling him to tone it down?

The subject came to mind Thursday upon learning that Harbaugh had undergone what the team called a "minor" procedure to address an irregular heartbeat. Perhaps this was just a medical blip for Harbaugh and something that won't come into play in the future. But some of the medical literature suggests people with irregular heartbeats need to reduce stress, get plenty of sleep and basically tone it down. These sorts of adjustments would be difficult for any NFL coach, let alone one wired the way Harbuagh is wired.

"This is a message from Harbaugh’s disobedient ventricles that halftime adjustments need to be made," Ray Ratto wrote for CSNBayArea.com. "Whether he chooses to do so is entirely his choice, though the faces of his wife and children might have some impact."