Jared Cook

Saints' Sean Payton snaps over failed two-point conversion vs. 49ers

Saints' Sean Payton snaps over failed two-point conversion vs. 49ers

Saints coach Sean Payton wasn't in a mood to be second-guessed following his team's last-minute Week 14 loss to the 49ers.

San Francisco ultimately won the thrilling back-and-forth matchup by two measly points -- a game in which New Orleans attempted two two-point conversions.

Both failed.

After Tre'Quan Smith scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass to give New Orleans a 46-45 lead with 53 seconds remaining, quarterback Drew Brees went back to the same well for the two-point conversion attempt, but the pass intended fell incomplete. On the ensuing possession, 49ers tight end George Kittle caught a 39-yard reception on fourth-and-2, eventually setting up a game-winning Robbie Gould 30-yard field goal as time expired.

But after the tough loss, it was the former two-point try, not the latter, that Payton was questioned about -- while shopping for groceries, no less.

"I certainly understand the fans asking questions," Payton said Thursday on his weekly WWL Radio show. "I got the guy at frickin' Whole Foods asking me about the two-point play. I looked at him, the guy in the meat section, and I said, 'Hey, your steaks don't look too good right now. Worry about your frickin' meat.' "

Oh man. What's the over/under on how many "Worry about your frickin' meat" shirts will be at the Superdome when the Saints host the Colts on Monday night?

The play in question occurred midway through the first quarter, after Saints tight end Jared Cook hauled in his second touchdown reception of the contest. The 49ers were assessed a personal foul on the play, and rather than take the yardage on the kickoff, Payton couldn't pass up being so close to the goal line.

On the two-point try, Brees handed the ball off to a motioning Taysom Hill, who promptly was stuffed by multiple San Francisco defenders well short of the end zone. 

"I didn't feel like kicking a touchback, thought about kicking an onside kick," Payton explained. "So on the 1-yard line, I think we're gonna get two points. And then we get the defense misaligned -- obviously it doesn't have any success. And then the game ends, and, 'Why were you going for two?' Because I wanted to. We were on the 1-yard line."

Misaligned, huh? Payton was correct in stating that the 49ers were in an atypical alignment with two safeties on the same side of the field, but according to San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, that was intentional.

"We knew it was coming," Saleh said Thursday in response to Payton's claim that one of the safeties accidentally lined up on the wrong side. "I’m not going to say he wasn’t on the right side because of the way we execute certain things and all our different goal-line packages that we have, but that play was a gimme one to me with Taysom Hill where he was aligned. That was a layup in my opinion."

[RELATED: 49ers severely battered, bruised with three regular-season games to go]

The tape sure seems to suggest the 49ers knew what was coming:

The Saints hung 46 points on the 49ers, so clearly, not many of Payton's play-calls were of the layup variety. But the first two-point attempt?

You might say he butchered that one.

Jared Cook's TD catch appears to hit ground in Saints-49ers; call upheld

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USATSI

Jared Cook's TD catch appears to hit ground in Saints-49ers; call upheld

One of the age-old questions in the NFL seems so simple but yet is so complex: "What is a catch?"

The catch/non-catch topic reared its head again Sunday in New Orleans, as Saints tight end Jared Cook caught a 26-yard touchdown to put the home team ahead of the 49ers 13-7 midway through the first quarter.

Despite an impressive effort by Cook -- and a personal foul penalty on 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon -- it appears the ball came loose and hit the ground at the end of the catch. While all scoring plays are reviewed, the officials didn't appear to give another look to the play.

Cook sustained a concussion on the play and later was ruled out for the rest of the game.

Had the play been ruled an incomplete pass, the Saints still would have been awarded first down in the red zone -- due to the penalty -- and in prime position to score. However, the 49ers then could have made the Saints settle for a field goal or even forced a turnover.

[RELATED: 49ers playing with four healthy wideouts vs. Saints]

The 49ers needed all the breaks they could get, as they beat the Saints 48-46 on a Robbie Gould field goal as time expired.

Raiders sign Luke Willson, add to already competitive tight end group

Raiders sign Luke Willson, add to already competitive tight end group

The Raiders added depth to an already sturdy tight end group by signing Luke Willson on Friday afternoon, adding fire to what should be a competitive position group throughout the offseason and training camp.

Willson isn’t guaranteed one of the three (or four, maximum) available spots on September’s 53-man roster, but he’ll challenge for one if he finds previous form following a down year. He was an effective low-volume target with the Seattle Seahawks, but didn’t pan out with the Detroit Lions in 2018.

Standing 6-foot-5, 251 pounds, Willson can be an effective blocker and will surely be in the mix on special teams.

[RELATED: NFL execs reportedly worried about Antonio Brown trade ramifications]

Willson joins a position group that already includes Lee Smith, Derek Carrier, Darren Waller and Paul Butler. Jared Cook signed with the New Orleans Saints earlier this week, and Waller will be given a crack at his receiving role. Don’t rule out the Raiders selecting a tight end early, or at some point in this year’s NFL draft.

With up to four roster spots available, the established Willson could pay dividends, or push Carrier to be more impactful on offense.

As a side note, Willson is from Windsor, Canada. The Raiders are in talks to play an exhibition game north of the border against the Green Bay Packers.