Coach Jim Harbaugh at the time didn't mind when the New Orleans Saints blitzed quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick more than what is typical for an exhibition game, and he still isn't losing any sleep over the issue.

Yet, the matter just won't seem to go away.

Soon after the 49ers played the Saints in August, Saints play-by-play man Jim Henderson said the dizzying array of blitzes called by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams came about as a result of a perceived slight of coach Sean Payton by Harbaugh.

"Sean Payton sort of expected Harbaugh to call him throughout the week and kind of figure out a gentlemen's agreement as to how the game would be played," Henderson said on a radio show. "When that didn't occur, Sean just said to Gregg, 'Let the dogs out.' And they did."

Such practices are prohibited by the league. However, coaches oftentimes admit that they work in concert with opposing coaches in exhibition games.

"I'm certainly not aware of any gentlemen's agreement," Harbaugh said. "I even asked my brother (Ravens coach John Harbaugh), 'Is there some kind of gentlemen's agreement that you call a coach before a preseason game?' And he wasn't aware of any. Even if there was, we wouldn't do it anyway. We ask no quarter, we give no quarter."

If anything, the Saints' aggressive defensive scheme helped mold the 49ers into the team they are today.

Harbaugh said the Saints' success against the 49ers' offensive line and pass protection scheme highlighted the need to address a shortcoming.


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  • Harbaugh and his coaching staff spent a great deal of time Saturday night breaking down tape on the Saints and preparing a plan for Saturday's playoff game.

    At some point, Harbaugh called it a night. And just how does a coach sleep after watching an upcoming opponent amass 626 yards offense?

    "It makes me go to bed and sleep like a baby," Harbaugh said. "I wake up every hour crying."

  • Center Jonathan Goodwin recalled the Saints not being bothered much by the crowd noise when he played for New Orleans against the 49ers at Candlestick Park in 2007. Last season was a different matter.

    "I remember it being loud," said Goodwin, now in his first season with the 49ers. "We had to use the silent count. In 2007 it wasn't as loud, and we didn't need the silent count."

    The Saints held on for a 25-22 victory over the 49ers last season on "Monday Night Football."

  • Defensive players and coaches autographed a football that is destined for a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a means of commemorating the 49ers' holding their first 14 opponents this season without a rushing touchdown.

    Earlier this season, the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, received footballs signed by Jim and John Harbaugh in recognition of their becoming the first brothers to coach against each other in an NFL game, on Thanksgiving night.

  • Harbaugh said he isn't ruling out the possibility of having tight end Delanie Walker for Saturday's game.

    Walker still is recovering from a broken jaw he suffered against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 24. He was cleared last Wednesday to resume conditioning.

    The fact the 49ers are keeping open a roster spot for Walker speaks volumes, Harbaugh said.

    "We got great news Wednesday on Delanie," Harbaugh said. "He's not the average Joe walking on the street. He's young and he's got great powers of healing apparently."

  • There were those who wondered whether running back Frank Gore would even make it back from the hip injury he suffered last season, let alone rush for 1,211 yards and break the franchise record for career rushing yards.

    Hence, this qualifies as the most satisfying season of Gore's seven-year NFL career, he said.

    "Yeah, I take this year over any year," Gore said, "especially fighting back from an injury a lot of people thought I wouldn't come back from. To come back and have a pretty good year -- not just individually but as a team -- I'll take this year over any year in my career so far."

    The bye week has afforded the Gore the opportunity to rest his banged-up body and head into his first playoff game as healthy as he has been in many weeks.

    Then again, nothing is going to keep Gore from playing after spending six seasons waiting for an opportunity to showcase his talents on a grand stage.

    "I waited a long time," Gore said, "And my goal (as well as for) everybody who plays this game, is you want to go to this postseason. I always wanted that, to be able to show everybody in the world what I'm made of as a player."