Newly Retired Sean Payton Gives 49ers a Bold Comparison

Sean Payton

Getty Sean Payton yells at a referee during a December 2, 2021 contest between the Saints and Cowboys.

Sean Payton was in a reflection oriented state when he made his stunning decision to step down after 15 seasons as head coach of the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, January 25.

How did Payton get here? By beating the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18, the San Francisco 49ers helped prevent the longtime head coach and the Saints from making another postseason run together.

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But it wasn’t just what he accomplished in the Big Easy including winning the franchise’s only Super Bowl win or who he coached as the primary things he reflected on to reporters. He also has one memory of a certain Super Bowl champion — and compared that championship winning team to the 49ers.

“Confidence can develop, but it’s from demonstrated behavior. And that’s what you’re watching right now when you watch San Francisco play,” Payton said. “It’s evolving, and they’re the team Tampa was a year ago. And that’s powerful in sports.”

There you have it, 49ers faithful. Payton believes this 49ers team looks just like the Buccaneers team that rolled through the NFC and went on to smash the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl in February 2021.

But are there any lies detected from the newly retired head coach? Or is he speaking the truth regarding the 49ers/Bucs comparison? Let’s compare.

How Both Are Similar

Let’s skip the fact that Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo are former New England Patriots as one comparison.

But by now, the NFL world knows who has more Super Bowl championships and who has more interceptions among the remaining quarterbacks. However, here are the similarities to what Garoppolo and the ‘Niners have that can correlate to Brady and the Bucs’ Vince Lombardi Trophy winning team:

The backfield: For one, Brady was backed by a fierce, physical and healthy running back from Louisiana in Leonard Fournette (New Orleans native). Garoppolo’s top backfield teammate? Elijah Mitchell, who too hails from the Bayou State (grew up in Erath, located two hours and 19 minutes west of New Orleans).

The tight end: Brady and the Buccaneers had a perennial Pro Bowl tight end in Rob Gronkowski. Garoppolo and the ‘Niners? They got George Kittle as the eccentric and physical blocker/catcher.

The SEC representatives out wide: Brady’s top wide receiver target? A representative from the Southeastern Conference Mike Evans, who starred at Texas A&M. Jimmy G and the ‘Niners’ top wideout? Another past SEC star in South Carolina standout Deebo Samuel.

Top 10 defenses: In 2020, the Bucs ranked sixth overall in total defense before embarking on their title run. The strength? The front seven with 48 sacks and surrendering an average of 3.6 yards per carry against the run. The 49ers? Third overall with, guess what…48 sacks during the regular season.

Road Warriors: Tampa Bay won all of their postseason games away from home. The 49ers are one win away from completing the road win hat trick — as they’ve knocked off the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers outside of Levi’s Stadium.

Looks like Payton is nearly dead on with his comparison.

Is Payton a Closet 49ers Fan This Sunday?

So the 49ers are again a reason why the Saints ended up watching the postseason. If it weren’t for the 49ers’ epic comeback at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, January 9, the Saints and Payton would have snuck into the playoffs.

However, there are no ill feelings Payton has for the ‘Niners. But there’s clear animosity toward the Rams.

Payton may still be bitter about how that 2019 NFC championship game went for him on this controversial play.

But that’s not all. He blames the Rams failing to win on Week 18, not the 49ers, for preventing them for heading into the playoffs.

“In a staff meeting, I just told them, our record was 9-8 and we didn’t get into the playoffs. We’re rooting against the Rams right now because of that,” Payton said.

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