Coincidence? Evidence of malfeasance?
"There’s something missing here," said Bill Polian, the ESPN analyst and former longtime NFL executive. "I don’t know what kind of competitive advantage you can get."
The report by "Outside the Lines" cites people familiar with the Saints' game-day operations as saying Mickey Loomis, the Saints' general manager, had the ability to monitor opposing coaches from his private box during home games.
NFC West teams played three games at the Superdome during the period in question.
The 49ers suffered a 35-27 defeat at New Orleans in 2002 after the Saints outscored them 22-3 in the fourth quarter. They also suffered a 30-27 defeat there in 2004 after Aaron Brooks found Donte Stallworth for a 16-yard touchdown with 1:01 remaining. Also in 2004, the Seattle Seahawks claimed a 21-7 victory at New Orleans.
The NFL has already suspended Loomis, a former longtime Seahawks executive, for the first eight games of the 2012 season as punishment for his handling of the Saints' bounty situation.
The allegations against Loomis are damaging whether or not the Saints realized any in-game advantages.
"Mickey would have to know the verbiage of every other opposing team in order to translate it, and then he would have to do it instantly and find some way to communicate with his coaching staff and get it down to the field in time for it to be useful," Polian said. "That would be very difficult to do, in my opinion."
The Saints have strongly denied the allegations.
Steve Mariucci (2002) and Dennis Erickson (2004) were the 49ers' head coaches for the NFC West defeats in question. Erickson and Loomis worked together in Seattle years earlier.
Another NFC West alum, Jim Haslett, was the Saints' head coach at the time.