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York acknowledges Browns contacted 49ers about Harbaugh

Harbaugh Getty Images

The 49ers have come a long way from their initial off-the-record insistence to NFL Media that the report of a possible trade of coach Jim Harbaugh to the Browns was “completely false” and “ridiculous.”

Three days after trying to create the impression that the report was entirely fabricated and fully erroneous, the 49ers admit that there were trade communications.

“The Browns reached out to me, and we had no interest in pursuing it,” CEO Jed York tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com.

That’s still much different from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam confirming that there was an “opportunity” that didn’t materialize.  “Opportunity” implies that something more happened than the 49ers hanging up on the Browns.

“Opportunity” implies that something more could happen in the future.

And that ultimately could be why the 49ers are trying to create the impression that they had zero interest in trading Harbaugh.  Unless the 49ers and Harbaugh work out a long-term deal this offseason (which would entail the 49ers paying Harbaugh much more than they want to pay), the efforts of other teams to acquire Harbaugh could continue.

The lingering possibility that another team will try to finagle Harbaugh requires the 49er to try to maintain leverage, in order to avoid giving their head coach away.

The terms of the trade that Harbaugh ultimately didn’t want (based on our report) could go a long way toward shaping his future value if a deal happens, but those terms remain unknown.  ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported over the weekend that the package did not include a first-round pick.

Regardless of what did or didn’t happen between the Browns and the 49ers, the uncertainty in San Francisco will linger until the team and its coach work out a long-term deal — or until the two sides convince the rest of the NFL that they have. 

Even if they really don’t.

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51 Responses to “York acknowledges Browns contacted 49ers about Harbaugh”
  1. buddysguys says: Feb 24, 2014 8:42 AM

    Completely False and Untrue…………..

  2. hanifmiller says: Feb 24, 2014 8:49 AM

    “The Browns reached out to me, and we had no interest in pursuing it,”– that pretty much sums up everything. I dont care how they package it– The Browns have no leverage. There is nothing they could give the 49ers that would come close to the value of Harbaugh. Add in the fact that the 49ers aren’t missing a lot of pieces for a championship and this is really a non issue.

  3. givemethehighgear says: Feb 24, 2014 8:50 AM

    Watch out Mr. York…dangle your coach as trade bait; try to be cheap … You’ll end up looking like a less smart Jerry Jones.

  4. beecee71 says: Feb 24, 2014 8:59 AM

    The 49ers may have never intended to trade him. However, it would be stupid not to see what they would offer. So from that point, I could see how the Browns are saying we were talking about a deal and the niners were like, no we weren’t.

  5. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 24, 2014 8:59 AM

    If San Fran was really smart they would replace their GM anyhow, and then the new GM could rekindle the talks and make the deal happen. Or have the current GM make the call. The Owner should just tell the GM that you are only the GM as long as you can make this deal happen. Show me that business background and negotiating skill you always brag about and close a deal. That means make the sale.

  6. joshm5683 says: Feb 24, 2014 9:03 AM

    I’m sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle it was probably something like this

    Haslem: Oh, could we try to work something out for Harbaugh?

    York: What did you have in mind?

    Haslem: A few picks

    York: Any 1st rounders?

    Haslem: No

    York: Hahaha thanks but no thanks, enjoy the snow *click*

  7. blantoncollier says: Feb 24, 2014 9:08 AM

    Best thing to happen to the Browns was for Mr. York to have said “NO”.

    The thought of Mike Lombardi trolling around in Cleveland, being unaccountable to anyone, Joe Banner still running the team. Its enough to make you sick.

    Good riddance to Joe and Mike and their oversized egos. The Joe and Mike show was about proving Joe and Mike were right.

  8. dukeearl says: Feb 24, 2014 9:10 AM

    Too high upkeep on a coach that hasn’t won the big game yet.

  9. tvjules says: Feb 24, 2014 9:11 AM

    For Harbaugh, who has the self-control of his emotions as a 2-year old, he’s got to be furious that San Fran would consider him expendable.

  10. edmonddantes21 says: Feb 24, 2014 9:14 AM

    Yeah cause thats why the browns never denied it cause It was untrue. You can not believe it if you want but as a lifelong niner fan when I first saw the report 4 days ago I knew it was true. Now there’s another report saying harbaughs relationship with the niners is getting even worse. Dude has to go

  11. idothis2 says: Feb 24, 2014 9:23 AM

    it’s obvious the Harbaugh leaked this. he may be a stark raving lunatic, but he pretty damn smart. this was well played

  12. sylvester000001 says: Feb 24, 2014 9:23 AM

    That’s still much different from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam confirming that there was an “opportunity” that didn’t materialize. “Opportunity” implies that something more happened than the 49ers hanging up on the Browns.

    “Opportunity” implies that something more could happen in the future.

  13. jimmyt says: Feb 24, 2014 9:24 AM

    I would trade that clown for draft picks in a heart beat. Maybe even for a ham sandwich.

  14. gochargersgo says: Feb 24, 2014 9:45 AM

    You’d have to be insanely stupid to get rid of Harbaugh. Only thing harder than finding a Super Bowl winning caliber QB is finding a Super Bowl winning caliber coach.

  15. sonoco says: Feb 24, 2014 10:01 AM

    Thank you Matt Barrows . . . now Jed, get the extension done pronto.

  16. jbniner says: Feb 24, 2014 10:09 AM

    Just to be clear…

    The “opportunity” the Browns had to acquire Harbaugh was an unsolicited call and package of picks that did not include a first rounder.

    This more clearly explains why the Browns front office is a complete mess. Their “opportunity” to acquire Harbaugh was on par with a guy who says “hi” to the hottest girl in the bar and walks away telling his buddies he had an “opportunity” to hook up with her.

  17. smcgaels1997 says: Feb 24, 2014 10:26 AM

    Love how Haslem is trustworthy in all this. Not exactly a believable guy based on his brief tenure in Cleveland. Sounds like the Browns overestimated the 49ers interest and now the media is running with the story

  18. sourdoughsam says: Feb 24, 2014 10:30 AM

    So days later, nothing has come out that has changed my initial thought of how the whole thing went down. Maybe York shouldn’t have used the word “completely” when describing the story as false, but I remember that the initial story was very clear in saying that the trade was nearly final but didn’t go through because Harbaugh rejected it. As a Niner fan, there are a few decisions here and there that have annoyed me (like benching/trading Alex Smith), but I remember the years before this current regime took over and it’s been night and day. York and Baalke have proven themselves to be pretty competent in their jobs and based on everything I’ve read or heard them say up to this point, they’re pretty thorough in how they go about their business. Baalke has proven himself to be very diplomatic in dealing with other teams, so it doesn’t surprise me that he would have let the Browns make the offer without insulting them with what he thought of it and York’s wise enough to know that you don’t discuss this kind of stuff outside of the organization. When it comes down to it, I’ll take York’s word over the guy who might have been behind bars right now if he didn’t have the dough to buy top-notch legal council.

  19. jgedgar70 says: Feb 24, 2014 10:34 AM

    ““The Browns reached out to me, and we had no interest in pursuing it,” CEO Jed York tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com.

    That’s still much different from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam confirming that there was an “opportunity” that didn’t materialize. “Opportunity” implies that something more happened than the 49ers hanging up on the Browns.

    “Opportunity” implies that something more could happen in the future.”

    Not necessarily. Dig a little deeper. The Browns were getting so desperate after everybody and their grandmother turned down the Browns head coaching job, the fact that York answered the phone constitutes an “opportunity.”

  20. greasestain says: Feb 24, 2014 10:49 AM

    Haslam: So York, what are the chances of trading Harbaugh.

    York: 1 in 1,000,000

    Haslam: So your telling me there’s chance.

  21. kylexitron says: Feb 24, 2014 11:04 AM

    The Seahawks should give Pete a raise and extension today just to send Jim Harblaugh into a rage.

  22. 1rockyracoon says: Feb 24, 2014 11:18 AM

    York is trying the old “I was lying before, but now I’m telling the truth” defense. Sounds like the actual truth is closer to what the Browns have been saying.

  23. jayniner says: Feb 24, 2014 11:18 AM

    Isn’t Haslam the guy under investigation for defrauding his Flying J customers and trucking companies?

    Anything he says must be 100% credible…

  24. tinbender2000 says: Feb 24, 2014 11:23 AM

    Why on earth would you get rid of a coach that has been in the playoffs every singe year, including his first year with the same players that went 4-12 the year before? Besides, what are the Yorks going to do with a bunch of truck stops? :)

  25. granadafan says: Feb 24, 2014 11:54 AM

    There appears to be a conflict between Harbaugh and the 49ers front office. If that’s the case, then ditch the GM. A head coach is 100 times more valuable than a GM, and Harbaugh has proven his worth.

  26. dirtdawg54 says: Feb 24, 2014 12:03 PM

    So the only thing “completely false” was the Niner response this was “completely false”.

    I see much hate for Haslam – and deservedly so – but Niner fans, you need to get real that your org lied when it said they weren’t contacted, when in fact they were.

  27. 00maybe00next00year00 says: Feb 24, 2014 12:07 PM

    Old news is old….. lets talk about who the browns coach will be in 2015.

  28. cakesw says: Feb 24, 2014 12:08 PM

    Story… no story.. denial, no denial…

    One thing is for sure…

    There are MAJOR issues in the San Francisco front office right now.

  29. southpaw79 says: Feb 24, 2014 12:28 PM

    York should call up Craft immediately and offer a 7th for both Brady and Belichick. Once the laugh has stopped he can hang up the phone and confidently report to the media that he had an “opportunity” to acquired both Brady and Belichick. Heck, every team should be trolling their rivals with this from now on. It does not matter how true it is, if it makes a good story someone will run with it.

  30. blabidibla says: Feb 24, 2014 12:30 PM

    When did the 49ers say they weren’t contacted?

  31. mapedog1 says: Feb 24, 2014 12:32 PM

    I am confused. York adamantly said there were no conversations with the Browns. Now, he is saying there were. Is it safe to have someone in such high power that can’t recall the conversations they had? If it isn’t a matter of complete memory loss, York would have to be branded a liar worthy of no trust from anyone. No wonder the Niners keep choking with a person like York in charge.

  32. jmethane says: Feb 24, 2014 12:57 PM

    Not going to lie, as a hawks fan I enjoy this story. It won’t die. The sf FO is doing its best to calm the fan base but the rest of us are having a fun time reading about it.

    Fact is that Jim has been abrasive his whole life. The family moved a couple times because Jim would come home and say “Dad it’s time to move again….I am out of friends.”(no I did not just make that up. Google it…)

    Meanwhile the entire city of Seattle and its players love Pete like an awesome uncle that you want to be around 24/7. His positive outlook is infectious and quite frankly life-changing for many of his players that come from hard, rough negative backgrounds(lynch for example).

    Interesting how two very successful coaches can have absolutely opposite personalities. Also very interesting watching their qb’s take on their personalities.

    Don’t mean to troll…just adding a couple thoughts. Sorry sf fans I do respect your team as an opponent. It is what it is. *shrugs*

  33. disp2 says: Feb 24, 2014 1:09 PM

    So how exactly did this deal “almost happen”, or is the original story littered with as much hyperbole as it sounds? Every coach and player is available for a price, and the owner/GM have to explore every option. The Niners probably wanted to see if the Browns were gonna go all Dan Snyder and offer all their picks for the next few years. Sounds like the Browns offered peanuts and that was the end of it.

  34. jayhawk777 says: Feb 24, 2014 1:39 PM

    I don’t think Harblow will ever win the SB because the constant complaining, yelling at officials, having confrontations with op coaches, it’s just bad karma.

    He took over a stacked roster in 2011. He looks good because Nolan and Singletary were dogs. Bow wow.

    You can be a successful coach without acting like a 5yo kid all of the time.

    Karma is a biotch and reason the 9ers will always be the best man but NEVER the groom. The past 3 years will extend to 5 then 10 and then 20.

  35. beastmode5150 says: Feb 24, 2014 1:54 PM

    Man, i wish i could re-post all of the Niners fans saying how awesome Baalke was…

  36. dryedmangoez says: Feb 24, 2014 2:02 PM

    The Niners are just trying to save face. They were open to the possibility of trading their coach. Fine. They didn’t like what the Browns were offering. That’s fine too.

    But denying it outright and now backtracking shows that they really were interested. Of course they wouldn’t want that known publicly. That throws a lot of people’s confidence out the window and could say a lot about what the Niners think they have on the roster and on the staff.

  37. jimmydixx12 says: Feb 24, 2014 2:19 PM

    How much fun is it gonna be when the Seahawks inevitably trip up? Lynch can’t run like that forever…Carroll’s getting old real fast…No team in today’s NFL can stand to afford a defense chalked full of stars like that for more than 2-3 seasons…someone’s gonna get injured…and some team, some coach is gonna come along and figure out the 12th man sooner than later – and then poof! And like that, they’re gone…bad unis and all.

    And remember, beastmoders, real fans don’t let their teams leave town, they hold onto ‘em…just ask the OKC Thunder fans. :)

  38. jmethane says: Feb 24, 2014 2:32 PM

    I’m guessing you don’t know who Christine Michael is…

    Pete is old in actual age only. Lives like he’s 20 years younger.

    The rest is just you hoping people get hurt and other 8ball nonsense.

    12th man would never “let” a team leave town. David Stern got butthurt and TOOK them from us. Got over that a long time ago though…you bringing that up didn’t sting one bit and only shows how much you hate.

    As my dad always said, hate makes you look/sound stupid.

  39. ydousuk says: Feb 24, 2014 2:37 PM

    sb nation is reporting that Harbaugh reached out to the Browns……

  40. ghost26 says: Feb 24, 2014 2:40 PM

    You people do realize that the Browns have never made it to a SB right??? I love how people are making Jed York out to be a moron when his team made three straight NFC championship appearances & a SB appearance.

    At the end of the day if you’re a Browns fan you need to come to the conclusion that your owner (who is a crook btw) failed in pursuit of Harbaugh. Although I don’t believe that the Niners were truly considering a trade, the fact that this has come public is yet another example of incompetence for a franchise that continues to be perennial losers.

  41. JSpicoli says: Feb 24, 2014 2:41 PM

    Too much smoke for no fire.

  42. nomoreseasontix says: Feb 24, 2014 2:52 PM

    Ok… Hairbow is a high-maintenance headache. Nothing new there.

    We all know he and the Niners are heading for an ugly divorce. It’s inevitable. He wants to be paid like a Super Bowl level coach, but, so far, he’s just an also ran.

    Nobody remembers which team lost the NFC championship game. It doesn’t matter. Went to a Super Bowl and lost. So did Bill Callahan. All that gets you is a footnote in a record book.

    The guy is going to implode in a few years and we’ll all look back on his tantrums and laugh..

  43. jimmydixx12 says: Feb 24, 2014 3:02 PM

    And I’m guessing you’ve never heard of Icarus.

  44. Robert says: Feb 24, 2014 3:15 PM

    Pee Wee Herman could of coached that 49ers Defense into the playoffs, Trade Jim and get a pick for him.

    Take Colin” worship me” with him. Somebody would trade for him.

    Offer Mike Holmgren the job, and draft a QB or pick one off waivers, Mike can groom any QB into success.

    If the 49ers goal is to have immature persons who are Circus acts as their leaders and imitate the Raiders—– then they are successful.

  45. cakesw says: Feb 24, 2014 3:24 PM

    Baalke should be the one the 49’ers are looking to trade…

    As good as the 2011 draft was for San Francisco, the 2012 draft was bad…

    the 2012 draft was a dumpster fire.

    Harbaugh has gone to the NFC Championship game in 3 straight seasons…

    Baalke’s drafts in 2011 and 2012.. is kind of like going 13-3, and then following up with a 4-12…

  46. pantherpro says: Feb 24, 2014 3:43 PM

    Don’t get excited SeaPeds. False alarm! We will take you down this year.

    Kap and Crab

  47. spalding1234 says: Feb 24, 2014 4:41 PM

    I cannot believe the Niners would risk pissing off their coach with this move. Pay the man!! He turned a sorry franchise into an elite powerhouse!

    Baalke is the one that needs the ax. His drafts haven’t even been that good.

    As a Seahawks fan, i find this whole situation funny, but i can’t help but feel bad for Harbs, turning the whole damn franchise around only to not get the extension he deserves.

  48. lcevans2 says: Feb 24, 2014 4:42 PM

    Jed York’s initial response was not a lie. He was asked whether the ‘report that Jim Harbaugh was almost traded to the Cleveland Browns over the weekend whereby the 49ers would have received draft picks in exchange for Harbaugh.’ was true. He said it was not. He was absolutely accurate in his response. Harbaugh was not almost traded!! York was asked if the 49ers were interested in trading Harbaugh, and he said that they were not. That is a far cry from being “almost traded.”

  49. bert1913 says: Feb 24, 2014 4:44 PM

    “And remember, beastmoders, real fans don’t let their teams leave town, they hold onto ‘em…just ask the OKC Thunder fans”
    ……and the san fransico 49ers fans

  50. jimmydixx12 says: Feb 24, 2014 6:32 PM

    Oh, right, ’cause Santa Clara is several states away from California.

  51. jmethane says: Feb 24, 2014 7:05 PM

    It isn’t the “California 49ers”.

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