When that quote was read aloud to Harbaugh during his news conference, he waved it off.
“Not factual. Not factual,” he said. “And I know there are probably a lot of reports out there ... Really, I didn't see any that were factual, including that one.”
Neither quarterback addressed the media Friday before heading off for the game featuring the NFC West-leading 49ers (7-2-1) against the red-hot Saints (5-5). New Orleans is trying to rally back into playoff contention after an 0-4 start.
When the teams met in the postseason a year ago, Smith threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns to spark a 36-32 victory and propel the 49ers to the NFC title game. In New Orleans, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins told reporters that he watched that game four or five times — from start to finish — in order to learn from the defense's many mistakes.
“Everybody probably circled this game whenever they announced the schedule,” Jenkins said. “It's going to be a big game for us. It's going to be a lot of emotion, but right now all we can do is make sure that we prepare mentally and not get too caught up in the hype.”
But the 49ers' offense might look different this time around if the youngster Kaepernick takes over for the ultracautious, ultraefficient Smith.
Smith leads the NFL with a 70.0 percent completion percentage, but his 192 passing yards per game rank just 29th.
Kaepernick, in contrast, played with a bit of daring against Chicago. He connected on six passing plays of at least 20 yards, including a 57-yarder to Kyle Williams.
Maybe Kaepernick will air it out again Sunday against the league's worst defense in terms of total yardage. Then again, maybe he won't.
“It's just not something we think is an advantage for us to talk about,” Harbaugh said.
MCT Information Services