Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam recently confirmed that there was an “opportunity” to acquire 49ers HC Jim Harbaugh since the season ended.
Both the 49ers and Harbaugh have refuted the Pro Football Talk report in recent days. However, multiple NFL reporters have mentioned that the Browns did in fact make an attempt to acquire Harbaugh to be their new head coach.
Either way, nothing ever came of the discussions. San Francisco reportedly views a contract extension for Harbaugh as a priority, so it seems like there is a good chance that could have an agreement in place in the next few months in an attempt to put this story to rest.
ESPN’s Ed Werder spoke with 49ers HC Jim Harbaugh via text message Friday night regarding the reports that the Browns were in trade discussions for him.
“I echo Jed York’s comment – isn’t true. I know nothing about a trade with the Cleveland Browns and us, involving me.”
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the Browns did in fact make a run at 49ers HC Jim Harbaugh and talks ever reached a “serious stage.”
- Peter King reports that 49ers never discussed “trade terms” for Harbaugh with the Cleveland Browns.
— Jed York (@JedYork) February 21, 2014
- Albert Breer of NFL Network mentions that he first heard of the Jim Harbaugh trade rumor close to three weeks ago, but high-ranking 49ers source said “not that I’m aware of.”
- However, the source left open the possibility that hat “some discussion could’ve happened through back channels.“
- Breer adds that the price trade for Harbaugh was reportedly “a heavy one.“
Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Report reports that two sources have informed him that the Jim Harbaugh trade report “essentially accurate.”
- Freeman source added that there were “extensive discussions” about Harbaugh being traded to the Browns.
Browns spokesman Zak Gilbert released a statement to Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland.
“The team conducted an extensive coaching search, and explored several options. That search produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine and we’re excited about his future with the club.”
- Grossi adds that former Browns GM Michael Lombardi is close to 49ers HC Jim Harbaugh.
- Ian Rapoport reports that a 49ers source called the report “completely false” and “ridiculous.”
It’s worth noting that the Browns did not deny the report that they pursued a trade for Harbaugh.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, citing multiple league sources, reports that the San Francisco 49ers “nearly” traded HC Jim Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns.
- Florio adds that the Browns would have sent the 49ers “multiple draft picks” for Harbaugh.
- According to Florio, the deal was in place, but the Harbaugh elected to remain with the 49ers.
The 49ers couldn’t be reached for a comment on the news, but the Browns did acknowledge that they conducted a thorough head coaching search and considered “many options.”
To say this is shocking news would be putting it mildly. It seems crazy to think that Harbaugh would even entertain the idea of leaving the 49ers organization after the success that they have had in recent years to take over as the head coach of the Browns.
It would be incredible to hear what the Browns offered in return for Harbaugh seeing as they have a lot of draft picks available this season.
San Francisco is expected to work on a contract extension with Harbaugh in the coming months, but this news could be the reason why it has taken this long in the first place.