It happened way back in the summer, but the reported rift between New Orleans coach Sean Payton and San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh is back in the news as their teams get ready to face each other in Saturday’s playoff game.
After the Saints and 49ers played a preseason game in August, there was a report that Payton was miffed because Harbaugh didn’t call him for the game. The report also said that’s why the Saints blitzed the 49ers frequently in that game.
Payton said Tuesday that report was not true.
“I’m close with Jim Harbaugh and I’ve known Jim for a while,’’ Payton said. “It was just a bogus report. So what do you say to that? All of a sudden now it’s three months in and we’re still talking about it or being asked questions about it the week before an important playoff game. It is what it is. Rarely would we have any contact (prior to a preseason game)."
Payton said it’s not unusual for opposing coaches to talk before the final preseason game to discuss a game that usually features backups. But he said it’s not normal protocol to talk to opposing coaches before the first three preseason games.
The Saints blitzed more frequently than any team in the NFL in the regular season.
“Typically we blitz a lot to begin with,’’ Payton said. “So the idea that all of a sudden, 'Hey we’re going to blitz more' because someone didn’t make a phone call is foolish.’’
Payton said the blitzing against the 49ers was simply part of a plan to get the New Orleans defense ready for the regular season.
“First off, if you look at our defense and you did a little homework maybe and watched our preseason in years prior, we would always pick a game where we’re going to try to get some of our blitz packages in, especially without any offseason,’’ Payton said.