The 49ers beat the Saints in the playoff game preceded by the now infamous speech by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and one of the players from the winning side is still throwing darts at the Saints.
Not because they were shooting for bounty payments, although safety Donte Whitner did call Williams’ actions “really disgusting” earlier this offseason. No, Whitner’s barbs are directed at the quality of the Saints defense, a group he felt only came up with a bounty program because they weren’t good enough to get the job done on their own merits.
“If you have the right type of guys in that room, you don’t have to set bounties or pay money for guys to play physical and play hard,” Whitner said, via Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “It’s going to come naturally. That’s the type of guys we have on our defense.”
That playoff loss is a strong illustration of Whitner’s point. The Saints defense couldn’t come up with a stop on either of the final two San Francisco possessions and the 49ers weren’t one of the best offenses in football last season. All throughout 2011 (and 2010, for that matter), the Saints struggled to make plays defensively and found themselves bailed out by their potent offense.
Contrasting that performance with the one the 49ers defense turned in only makes the point more emphatically. New Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s been tasked with fixing a unit that would have been a major concern even if the word bounty never entered the conversation.