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Haslam confirms that Browns had talks with 49ers about Jim Harbaugh


Yes, folks, the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers did indeed engage in discussions about Jim Harbaugh.

We now know this with certainty because Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has confirmed the existence of discussions with between his team and the 49ers.

“There was an opportunity there, and it didn’t materialize,” Haslam told Jarrett Bell of USA Today.  Haslam did not address why the opportunity didn’t result in a transaction.

Haslam’s use of the term “opportunity” is a far cry from the 49ers’ initial characterization (via off-the-record quotes leaked to NFL Media) that the report of a possible trade of Harbaugh to the Browns was “completely false” and “ridiculous.”  Haslam’s choice of words also cuts against the notion that the Browns made an inquiry about acquiring Harbaugh and the 49ers immediately and flatly said no.

It’s no surprise, given the Browns’ initial on-the-record response to the report.  The Browns did not deny — and have not denied — any aspect of the report.

It’s possible that a sitcom-style misunderstanding arose between the Browns and 49ers regarding Cleveland’s interest in Harbaugh.  It’s also possible, if not likely, that the 49ers are now saying what they have to say in order to avoid a full-blown implosion of the increasingly awkward relationship between Harbaugh and the organization, including most specifically G.M. Trent Baalke, with whom Harbaugh must find a way to work closely and cooperatively.

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75 Responses to “Haslam confirms that Browns had talks with 49ers about Jim Harbaugh”
  1. krenshaws says: Feb 23, 2014 6:11 PM

    At least the 49ers were dumb enough to reject the trade, no one wants a crybaby Harbaugh on their team.

  2. thepftpoet says: Feb 23, 2014 6:16 PM

    The Seahawks still have 0 Super Bowl wins.

    The last one has an asterisk on it.

  3. hawksfan4life1001 says: Feb 23, 2014 6:17 PM

    Jim sees his old buddy Pete win a championship and now he wants that type of control over the roster. Pete has final say as opposed to the 49ers where there is a power struggle. Jim wants full control and he wants more money. Not sure what happens since the GM is signed through 2016.

  4. wwwmattcom says: Feb 23, 2014 6:19 PM

    Seems like the browns are sinking their ability to keep a secret.

    What team wants to give them a call now?

  5. slugbaitspace says: Feb 23, 2014 6:19 PM

    Business deals between these two teams in the future, like draft trades or RFA deals, are going to be awkward…assuming the 49ers will ever speak to the Browns again.

  6. leroysbutler says: Feb 23, 2014 6:20 PM

    Well now we know that the 49ers are liars as well as whiners.

  7. thepftpoet says: Feb 23, 2014 6:20 PM

    Next year teams will be offering 8 first round picks to acquire the great Mike Zimmer – who will go down as the best HC of all time.

  8. arnoldziffel says: Feb 23, 2014 6:22 PM

    I’m curious to know how the Browns even knew to ask about the 49’ers coach? Were there ever reports out there that Harbaugh and the Niner’s weren’t getting along? Just how did they know to ask?

    With the exception of Gruden’s trade from the Raiders to the Bucs … this kind of activity doesn’t seem to happen very often.

  9. thegreatgabbert says: Feb 23, 2014 6:23 PM

    “I can steal and cheat, but I cannot lie….”.

  10. ✦ Pittsburgh is the City of Champions ✦ says: Feb 23, 2014 6:27 PM

    “I don’t want to be traded!” Harbaugh yelled, stomping his feet.

  11. tedmurph says: Feb 23, 2014 6:30 PM

    This owner is making DSnyder look like a genius.

  12. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 23, 2014 6:31 PM

    San Fran is nuts if they couldn’t figure out a way to negotiate a trade for Harbaugh. What a wonderful opportunity that could have been. If I was San Fran I would have tried to give them the GM too, I don’t like either of those guys and I think they both are doing a weak job. To save the salary cash from going down the drain and get draft material in exchange for moving on to better people for those jobs? Gosh, what a brilliant transaction that could have been and a potential disaster of a deal for Haslam.

  13. pooflingingmonkey says: Feb 23, 2014 6:34 PM

    So who would have replaced Harbaugh if he had been traded? I’d like to know, because I think Harbaugh’s days in SF are now numbered.

  14. sourdoughsam says: Feb 23, 2014 6:36 PM

    Pretty dumb on the Browns’ part to even discuss this outside the organization. They hired their guy so there’s no benefit in discussing what could have been. Then there’s that bridge they just burned w/ the 49ers and probably any other organization that understands the benefit of keeping certain things in-house.

  15. edmonddantes21 says: Feb 23, 2014 6:38 PM

    I told everybody harbaugh talked to Cleveland and im a niner fan. As I said he is just not to be trusted. From recruiting RG3 at Stanford while Luck was there to the lie he told about not meeting/working out Manning to the subsequent taking of Alex Smiths job from him for no reason and u add the reports about him being hard to deal with thats came out yesterday and I smell a split. May not be this year but itll happen sooner than people think. As a fan all ive seen is constantly failing to make adjustments against teams that take the running game away. Add in Kapernick being less than average as a passer despite all the hype and you have a guy that in my opinion dosent need to be here. I know most niner fans disagree and will point to what hes done so far and to an extent they are right. But the 49ers standard has been championships and harbaugh hasn’t met that standard despite arguably the best team the last 3 years. He did the same thing in college as in the pros. And thats not win anything relevant. A pac 12 championship in college and an NFC championship and 2 division titles means jack squat. Now the team’s in the division have built thier teans to beat us and the road to the supe bowl goes through Seattle. If Harbaugh dosent win this year it wouldn’t shock me if hes gone

  16. tigerlilac says: Feb 23, 2014 6:38 PM

    This guy is a fool. He talks out of school to make himself look better. In reality, betraying a confidence does not make one look better.

  17. nflfollower says: Feb 23, 2014 6:40 PM

    Browns are in disarray.

  18. chawk12thman says: Feb 23, 2014 6:40 PM

    Just like my conversations with my wife…..sometimes she will advise that we were discussing something and I have no recollection talking with her about. She calls it selective hearing on my part. I, much the same as in the case of the Cleveland Browns here, call it selective conversationalist. Haslam thought he was talking with the 49’rs about a possible trade for their coach and the 49’rs didn’t know it.

  19. mikeypanic says: Feb 23, 2014 6:42 PM

    jimmy knows coaching shorts

  20. JackedUpSports says: Feb 23, 2014 6:42 PM

    i didnt even know you could trade coaches in the nfl. i thought that was an nba thing

  21. chawkup says: Feb 23, 2014 6:46 PM

    Dolphins are sending a thank you note to the Niners for this.

  22. ezmoover says: Feb 23, 2014 6:57 PM

    Blame the Browns for everything. It’s the easy thing to do. Even when it’s evident that the Niners are the liars and were listening to offers to dump Harbaugh. Ignore the facts.

  23. bert1913 says: Feb 23, 2014 7:00 PM

    it would be really funny if the niners didn’t give harbaugh keys to levi stadium

  24. thevikesarebest says: Feb 23, 2014 7:00 PM

    Trading someone to the browns is like going to Guantanamo bay.

  25. keylimelight says: Feb 23, 2014 7:00 PM

    Perhaps the 49ers camp did something to tee off the Browns so that’s why they not only leaked the story, they doubled down on it even after it was clear the 49ers were trying to rein the story in.

    Hell hath no fury like a Browns’ front office scorned.

  26. cags777 says: Feb 23, 2014 7:02 PM

    When you play with fire, you eventually get burned. 49ers better watch it. Otherwise they’ll be back to mediocrity (sadly).

  27. cakesw says: Feb 23, 2014 7:02 PM

    …We did not try to sign Peyton Manning !!!

    …We did not try to trade Jim Harbaugh….

    …The Moon is made if cheese


  28. dabmasterhap says: Feb 23, 2014 7:04 PM

    Lombardi the disgruntled employee leak it. Haslim did the right thing, don’t deny and don’t elaborate. End of story

  29. raiderlyfe510 says: Feb 23, 2014 7:11 PM

    Cleveland Browns = The most trusted name in sports.

    Unlike other franchises who flat out lie to their fans.

  30. jpb12 says: Feb 23, 2014 7:12 PM

    What team is going to want to do business with the Browns now?

    Clown car moved from the Jets to Cleveland

  31. kwjsb says: Feb 23, 2014 7:12 PM

    Jimmy offered 2 #1’s and a series of rebates to be paid later.

  32. bengalskuta82 says: Feb 23, 2014 7:16 PM

    Ok? So why is this news? Harbaugh is the. 49ners hc this year and the browns have their hc for 2014 as well. So why the heck is this? Gosh n/m

  33. Dogsweat says: Feb 23, 2014 7:17 PM

    Trade Jimmy for first round pick, then the 49ers take Johnny Manziel a team player who doesn’t worship himself.

    And of course San Francisco native Mike Holmgren to lead this franchise back to class and rings.

  34. j0esixpack says: Feb 23, 2014 7:17 PM

    Former Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini joins the 49ers trying to work his way up from TE coach, and a day later a story breaks involving a source that seems to have ties to both the Browns and 49ers

    Coincidence? Maybe, but the best shot Mangini has at seeing a Coordinator position any time soon let alone head coaching position is if there’s suddenly a vacancy at the Head Coaching position in San Fran.

  35. sewalters79 says: Feb 23, 2014 7:18 PM

    Go Browns!

  36. pmars64 says: Feb 23, 2014 7:23 PM

    Who knows what the truth is. This rumor serves the Browns because it makes them look less like a laughingstock. It serves Harbaugh because it pushes the Niners to do a deal. It makes Banner/Lombardi look good even though they were fired and it could be a back-handed way of throwing criticism onto Haslam for firing them. But Haslam jumps aboard to try to look good, too.

    None of it matters. Frankly, as a Browns fan, I’m not sure I’d want Harbaugh. He’s too big an ego and the personnel moves the Niners have made since he’s been there have been mediocre at best. I think Haslam’s an idiot and I don’t hold high hopes for Pettine, but Harbaugh brings another set of issues that I’m not sure would be that much of an improvement.

  37. ratsfoiledagain says: Feb 23, 2014 7:34 PM

    thepftpoet says:
    Feb 23, 2014 6:16 PM
    The Seahawks still have 0 Super Bowl wins.

    The last one has an asterisk on it.
    For what? Too many ‘former’ Viking players winning an actual, real, cannot be denied, Super Bowl?

  38. @Cereal_22 says: Feb 23, 2014 7:36 PM

    He admitted it ??? Wow

  39. mrfrostyj says: Feb 23, 2014 7:42 PM

    So listening to all the reports and then Haslams words it sounds like Harbaugh pitched a fit in San Francisco and ASKED to be traded to Cleveland and when the 49ers called his bluff and set it up he backed down not expecting them to actually do it.

    I guess Clevelands head coaching search wasn’t a joke after all.

  40. beer hawk says: Feb 23, 2014 7:45 PM

    thepftpoet says:
    Feb 23, 2014 6:16 PM
    The Seahawks still have 0 Super Bowl wins.

    The last one has an asterisk on it.


    What, that it was too easy?

  41. seatownballers says: Feb 23, 2014 7:50 PM

    Harbuagh said No Way.
    But the really story is the Vikings offered ten times as much, and he said Hell No!

  42. oldcracker says: Feb 23, 2014 7:52 PM

    Yah, like we are to believe Jimmy Truckstop with his unquestionable integrity.

    However, everyone knows it was leaked by Dumbardi as a parting shot.

  43. sharks123 says: Feb 23, 2014 7:53 PM

    It’s not about being liars. The 49ers are smart enough to know to keep things in house as much as possible. Haslam doesn’t seem to have a clue what he’s doing. I would hate to see Harbaugh go but getting some Cleveland first rounders would ease the pain. High picks year in and year out.

  44. brownsmakemecrazy says: Feb 23, 2014 7:57 PM

    First, the Browns have nothing to lose in admitting they tried to get Harbaugh based on Pettine’s absurd comments about “this shows the Browns are serious are turning things around”. The coach was like the 8th choice, so they have their current yes man as their Head Coach. But it shows they still have no clue by trying to giving up draft picks for head coaches. Yo Haslem, why dont you get some good players for a good coach to work with, instead of the stiffs on your roster currently. No players equals 4-12, 5-11 year in and year out.

    The main question is did the 49ers think there were no discussions because they said no immediately, therefore that’s techincally not a discussion, its an inquiry on Browns part, or was there a discussion and Harbaugh said no. Thats the question.

  45. seatownballers says: Feb 23, 2014 8:07 PM

    Lol @ poet. Let’s compare coaches since its the topic! The Niners coaches have gotten them to last three nfc championships. Seattle has the latest crown. Zimmer has never coached a nfl team. A great D coordinator inheriting the great ponder. He will help the defense as the offense gets worse. And again you’ll posts- next year, next season.

  46. joecool49 says: Feb 23, 2014 8:08 PM

    any response from Jed York/Harbaugh? or are they too busy taking the fire extinguisher to their pants.. #pieonface

  47. tictoccpthook says: Feb 23, 2014 8:11 PM

    The Browns have been the graveyard for everyone they’ve brought in for ten years. Just as soon retire immediately than join the Browns.

  48. steelernationmarty says: Feb 23, 2014 8:12 PM

    Jim Harbaugh yelling his catch phrase in the locker room:
    Who has it better than us? NO-BODY!!!
    Who is a bigger liar than me? NO-BODY!!!
    Who is a bigger crybaby than me? NO-BODY!!!

    49ers are losing it…Browns already lost it.

  49. mayfieldroadboy says: Feb 23, 2014 8:16 PM

    Maybe the whole series of events was begun by Harbaugh as a way to leverage his contract extension giving him more power over Baalke and the draft and the roster. If Cleveland had the “opportunity”, did Haslam actually bite on the trade or just consider it. Either way, I think the reason Harbaugh said no was because Cleveland wanted more than Harbaugh in the trade; it was the Browns who wanted draft picks to take Harbaugh off York’s and Baalke’s hands.

  50. mjr53 says: Feb 23, 2014 8:18 PM

    The Browns nearly won the AFC North, then they lost all those games and they didn’t. So what? As a Browns fan, nice try but I would rather the team use those picks to find a QB.
    Draft a decent QB and the most unattractive coach morphs into Bar Refaeli. Bill Belichick was a failed coach who wore garbage bags in quarterbackless Cleveland Along comes Tom Brady and presto changeo ladies and gentlemen we have instant genius.

  51. kolbydoerge says: Feb 23, 2014 8:31 PM

    Seahawks? This is a conversation about the 9ers soon to implode over rated “coach”. Management is now fully aware of the fool sucking the franchise dry/…and NOW he demands a huge contract to boot! PLEASE give it to him, Kap and Boldin. AZ is tough enough, you’ll make it a quick death to your “reign” with out a real championship…Its called a Super Bowl Ring. Google Seahawks!!
    I didn’t think it could get any better than winning a Ring..boy was wrong!

    GO Hawks!

  52. mydoglouie says: Feb 23, 2014 8:32 PM

    It’s quite amazing that for something that did not happen, the amount of reporting that is going into it it.

  53. jg78219 says: Feb 23, 2014 8:42 PM

    This isn’t for the fans of the Niners because your hate for our team obviously outweighs your common sense if you had any to begin with. This is for Niners fans that are happy about Harbaugh being unhappy. Are you high??? I wanted Harbaugh in 2011 he was the best and obvious choice he turned Stanford from a doormat into a winner……..Stanford!!!! You people have short memories well I don’t I remember what it was like to have Erickson, Nolan and Singletary coaches who couldn’t build team or a coaching staff. Your the same people that now say Harbaugh was handed a great team but before the 2011 season said if we go 6-10 it will be a success. He turned Alex Smith and the Niners into a winner you morons and instilled a toughness and a physicality in them that Nolan and Singletary only dreamed of. There is a stat out there that shows since he took over the teams that play the Niners have more players leave the following game with injuries more than any other team. Yeah I now there is a stat for everything. Stop with the he inherited a great team the same guys sucked under the previous coaches. In the NFL coaching matters and he’s one of the best and you want Tomsula as coach??? Are you stupid??? Harbaugh is doing things no coach has done since the merger and what you don’t like him because he’s not a nice guy, has a big ego, looks like a whiner on the sideline, is uncomfortable to be around, went after one of the best QB’s in NFL history and lied when they didn’t get him??? So how is he different from any other coach or G.M. in that respect??? I will tell you how 37-11 (best winning pct. in the NFL) his first 3 years in the NFL with a team that had not won more than 8 games the previous 10 years!!! One SB appearance and 3 straight Championship games with a QB ‘s who are not elite YET! Yeah he sucks. I’m not convinced if we did lose him we would make a good hiring decision we messed that up for 10 years. You would rather have someone who told the media the truth all the time and wasn’t insane about winning someone, someone nice. Quick get Marriucci back. He sucked too talk about someone who was given a ready made team. I love Jim Harbaugh he’s a winner and brought back some respect to the Bay. Ok I’m done I needed to bring some sanity back to this conversation. Last thing Haslam your a punk. It’s called professional courtesy being a pro. Now I know why your team sucks.

  54. steelernationmarty says: Feb 23, 2014 8:49 PM

    NFL Dysfunctional Standings:

    1. Cleveland Browns
    2. Miami Dolphins
    3. New York Jets
    4. Dallas Cowboys
    5. Oakland Raiders
    6. Washington Redskins
    7. Jacksonville Jaguars
    8. Minnesota Vikings
    9. Tennessee Titans
    10. St Louis Rams

  55. whatawegot says: Feb 23, 2014 8:52 PM

    what a crock- media is a bunch of fools. So cleveland kicks the tires on harbaugh. They already had been in contact with the 49ers in regards to the oc and dl coach. That was already confirmed by harbaugh and the niners. Maybe there was conversation in house with cleveland or maybe lombardi mentioned something about it to the niners. Of course there going to listen. 2 firsts and 2 seconds and money, id listen also. Overblown story. If harbaugh leaves in 2016 then see ya later and take that oc with you.

  56. goldrush94 says: Feb 23, 2014 8:55 PM

    This has Pete Carroll written all over it.

  57. ravenswhat says: Feb 23, 2014 8:59 PM

    Harbaugh lying again. Hilarious. Did it during the QB switch and now this. Can’t trust that guy.

  58. brooklyn40niner says: Feb 23, 2014 9:15 PM

    Who cares? We’re still going to win the Super Bowl this coming season.



  59. smcgaels1997 says: Feb 23, 2014 9:25 PM

    With all the circus that’s been the Browns since he took over …not exactly credible. Love how they are the shining source in this.

  60. darman55 says: Feb 23, 2014 9:26 PM

    @JG78219, Couldn’t have posted it better myself. I don’t believe any of these so called “Niner” fans complaining about Harbaugh, or Baalke for that matter, are real SF fans. I think they’re anti-Niner fans who say they’re Niner fans. What idiot would complain about a coach and GM who have turned their team’s fortunes around and made them one of the three or four best teams in the league after eight years of-at best=mediocrity? Not one would. I’ve been on these boards for years, and I find it funny that all of these alledeged 49er, yet, Anti-Harbaugh, Baalke fans seemed to have crawled out of the woodwork right around the time Seattle became relevant again.

  61. penguins87and71 says: Feb 23, 2014 9:38 PM

    Haslam should just do everyone a favor and fire himself. You would think since Haslam was with the Steelers for so long that he would bring the Rooney’s philosophy to the Browns, but that obviously hasn’t been the case. I was actually kind of worried when Haslam took over the Browns, I thought he could turn them around, boy was I dead wrong.

  62. goldrush36 says: Feb 23, 2014 9:41 PM

    Sounds to me like Lombardi pitched the stars and moon at the 49ers to lure his friend and save his own job. Then when York told him to pound sand he got fired and this story magically appeared. Lets not forget Haslam’s Pilot scheme ripping off millions from customers as well.

  63. pantherpro says: Feb 23, 2014 9:49 PM

    SeaPeds you wish Jim would leave. He will own you for next five tears

  64. thetooloftools says: Feb 23, 2014 9:57 PM

    Well I guess all the other owners now know you cannot trust Jimmy Haslam to keep his mouth shut… among other things.
    Please God make this nightmare stop !
    Every other day it is Drama Drama Drama.
    We are turning into The Cleveland Clowns.
    We are going to wear the red nose ball and huge shoes next tear.

  65. riverhorsey says: Feb 23, 2014 10:10 PM

    Would make damn sure Baalke went elsewhere before Harbaugh. The Chargers went straight down the tubes after Marty left.

  66. threedeep1998 says: Feb 23, 2014 10:57 PM

    Hilarious. Doesn’t change the fact the players seem to love Harbaugh and consistently play tough for him.

  67. kevpft says: Feb 23, 2014 11:25 PM

    Said Baalke, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

  68. whatawegot says: Feb 23, 2014 11:27 PM

    if harbaugh leaves ill be upset. The seattle rivaly will be history. Theyll be talking about the arizona cardinals against seattle rivaly. The niners and there new stadium will be all forgotten.

  69. hess97 says: Feb 24, 2014 1:43 AM

    In their dreams, the Expansion-Team-Browns get Harbaugh as their coach.

  70. macbull says: Feb 24, 2014 6:58 AM

    I wonder, did Harbaugh turn the job down because of the Browns management team, like other candidates…Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi?

    Maybe this is the moment Jimmy Haslam finally realized he had the wrong people running his team and fired them at the first opportunity.

    …if so, I have to thank Harbaugh for turning the job down.

  71. ridingwithnohandlebars says: Feb 24, 2014 7:52 AM

    They did not offer Harbaugh enough cake to make him happy.

  72. billsfan1 says: Feb 24, 2014 8:23 AM

    This will not affect Pettine and the job he has to do but I just hope for him that because he was like the 6th option, that he gets a fair shot, unlike last years coach.

  73. tigerlilac says: Feb 24, 2014 9:14 AM

    “The Seahawks still have 0 Super Bowl wins . . . The last one has an asterisk on it.”

    The asterisk as a concept is for revisionist historians that can’t accept reality. They prefer to live in a glorified past (an Antebellum South, a forgone baseball period that was pure, and an NFL where only certain franchise are worthy of being called champions). Sorry, but the Black athlete is not living under Jim Crow anymore, Roger Maris hit 61 home runs and Babe Ruth was a man of many personal flaws who played in an era of corruption, and teams like the Seahawks and Patriots earned their championships the old fashion way, by beating the opposition on the football field.

  74. mydroopysack says: Feb 24, 2014 11:11 AM

    Jimmy Haslam saying there was an opportunity that never materialized is a far cry from Florio’s characterization of Harbaugh being “almost traded.” It’s possible, if not likely, that Florio has to continue posting hyperbolic libel to create controversy and clicks. It’s funny that the one time PFT breaks a story it gets disputed by multiple reporters and named sources, albeit biased (Jed York), which are still better than the unnamed sources that PFT uses. It’s all the better when PFT even admits that they don’t adhere to journalistic standards in their “About” section of the website. Now watch this comment disappear in the next hour or so.

  75. radar8 says: Feb 24, 2014 4:54 PM

    For those talking about Harbaugh being a bad coach (likely all Seattle fans), let me remind you that since Harbaugh joined the 49ers (3 years), only 2 NFC teams finished higher than them.

    So in 3 years, the Niners, under Harbaugh, finished:

    #2 NFC
    #1 NFC
    #2 NFC

    There are NO other coaches in the NFC that have a record that good, period. Even Pete the Cheat has not been as good over that same period of time.

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