The Browns’ unpredictable head-coaching search nearly finished with what would have been the most unpredictable outcome of any head-coaching search since Jon Gruden was traded from the Raiders to the Buccaneers a dozen years ago.
Per multiple league sources, the Cleveland Browns nearly pulled off a trade with the 49ers for the rights to coach Jim Harbaugh.
A deal that would have sent multiple draft picks to San Francisco was in place between the teams. But Harbaugh ultimately decided not to leave the 49ers.
The 49ers could not immediately be reached for comment. Efforts to contact the 49ers continue.
The Browns declined to comment specifically on whether an effort was made to acquire Jim Harbaugh. The Browns characterized the search as thorough, and the Browns acknowledged that many options were considered. The Browns emphasized that the team is excited about its new coach Mike Pettine.
A deal would have been stunning, for several reasons. Harbaugh has taken the 49ers to the NFC title game in each of his three years with the team. Also, he would have joined the same division as his brother, Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
Which means they would have been squaring off at least twice per year, and competing directly for division titles and/or wild-card positioning.