The story about the Browns trying to trade for San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh won’t die, at least not anytime soon.
ProFootballTalk.com first reported Friday a deal that would have sent multiple draft picks to the 49ers was in place between the teams, but Harbaugh ultimately decided not to leave San Francisco.
The latest wrinkle surfaced today when 49ers owner Jed York confirmed for the Sacramento Bee that the Browns pursued Harbaugh before they hired Mike Pettine as their new coach days later on Jan. 23.
How far did the conversation get?
“Not far at all,” York told Sacramento Bee reporter Matt Barrows. “We had no interest in entering those discussions.”
The Browns were the only NFL team without a head coach when the 49ers’ season ended Jan. 19 with a loss in the NFC title game against the eventual Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks. York confirmed a report by the Sacramento Bee that the Browns initially called the 49ers to inquire about offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula but then followed up by asking about Harbaugh.
After ProFootballTalk.com reported that the trade nearly went through, York wrote on Twitter Friday night that the report wasn’t true. He stood by that claim during his conversation with the Sacramento Bee today, saying any trade discussion was short-lived, not nearly a done deal.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that a first-round pick was not included in the Browns’ offer for Harbaugh.
The Browns have never denied any aspect of the original report from ProFootballTalk.com. On Sunday, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam confirmed for USA Today that his team attempted to deal for Harbaugh.
“There was an opportunity there, and it didn't materialize,” Haslam said.