Saints vs. 49ers: A Rivalry That Ain’t Dead Yet

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Jim Mora was the 2nd most successful coach in Saints history, and it was during his tenure (1986-96) that the Saints finally became relevant within the NFL after decades of futility. The Mora-led Saints, however, had to deal with the era of Joe Montana / Bill Walsh led 49ers at their peak (more on them in a moment), and seemingly year after year would always finish 2nd in the NFC West division, just behind San Francisco.

Mora’s Saints teams were extremely competitive in most of their games, but a record of only 7-16 showed that New Orleans were just a bit shy of being among the leagues elite group. In an unforgettable moment following an agonizingly-close last minute 24-22 loss to the Niners in Week 6 of the 1987 season, the game’s outcome so incensed Mora that it prompted one of his most famous post game rants of all time.

Mora’s rant became known as his “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” speech. In his postgame press conference, Mora angrily said the following:

"“They’re better than we are; we’re not good enough. We shouldn’t be thinking about beating these 49ers; we shouldn’t be talking about it, ’cause the Saints ain’t good enough. And you guys shouldn’t write about us being a playoff team and all that bullstuff — that’s malarkey. We ain’t good enough to beat those guys and it was proven out there today. It’s that simple. We’re not good enough yet. We’ve got a long way to go; we’ve got a lot of work to do; we’re close, and close don’t mean sh*t. And you can put that on TV for me. I’m tired of coming close, and we’re gonna work our asses off until we ain’t close anymore, and it may take some time; we’re gonna get it done; we aren’t in there—we aren’t good enough. They’re better than us—black and white, simple, fact! “Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” is the difference in what I’m talking about! The good teams don’t come in and say “Could’ve.” They get it done! All right? It’s that simple! I’m tired of saying “Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.” That’s why we ain’t good enough yet! ‘Cause we’re saying “Could’ve” and they ain’t! I’m pissed off right now. You bet your ass I am. I’m sick of coulda, woulda, shoulda, coming close, if only.”"

The rant became a rallying point for the team, and then the Saints won 9 STRAIGHT games to finish the players-strike shortened 1987 season at (12-3) — the Saints’ first-ever winning season and Playoff berth in team history, before being eliminated in the Wild Card round by Minnesota.

Oh, and by the way: the Saints STILL finished 2nd in the division, behind the (13-2) 49ers.