SANTA CLARA One of the 49ers players targeted by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in his now-famous, profanity-laced speech Jan. 13 has come to the defense of a New Orleans linebacker.
Frank Gore said this week he has no beef with Jonathan Vilma or the Saints.
Gore and Vilma have a long history. They played together at Coral Gables (Fla.) High School and the University of Miami. Vilma entered the NFL in 2004, and Gore followed a year later. Now they're on opposite ends of the Saints' bounty controversy.
Vilma has been suspended a year for allegedly offering money to teammates in the Saints' pay-for-hits scandal, and Williams has been suspended indefinitely.
Gore was one of several 49ers offensive players targeted by Williams before the teams' divisional playoff game. Said Williams on a recording of a defensive meeting: "We've got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore's head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways."
Gore said he had no concerns over the tape. In fact, he said he hasn't listened to it.
Told that Williams said he wanted Gore's "head sideways," the running back said, "When you hear another team call your name, that means respect. That's a lot of respect, and you're doing something right for your team. So it don't bother me at all."
Gore said the threatening talk in the New Orleans meeting room didn't translate to the field the next day.
The Saints weren't penalized in the game, which the 49ers won 36-32.
Defensive end Will Smith (four games) and former Saints defenders Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Scott Fujita (three) also were suspended.
"When we played them, I felt it was how the game was supposed to be played," Gore said. "And I played high school ball with Vilma, and I know he's not that type of guy. He's a hard worker, he enjoys the game of football, and he's going to give it his all every snap."
Vilma is appealing his suspension and has filed a defamation lawsuit against Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league.
The 49ers visit the Saints on Nov. 25.