Mort confirms “substance” of our Harbaugh report

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It’s been an interesting day in Indianapolis.

Not long after finishing the last of 19 coach/G.M. interviews for Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, we nailed down the news that the Browns and 49ers had a trade in place to send Jim Harbaugh to Cleveland, and that Harbaugh ultimately opted not to consummate the deal.

The Browns did not deny the news, telling PFT that there would be no comment on the specific report, but explaining that many options were considered during the search for a new coach.  The 49ers didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 49ers apparently opted to try a different approach to denying the report with a press release, leaking to NFL Media via an unnamed source that the notion that the report is both “completely false” and “ridiculous.”  It seemed odd that the 49ers wouldn’t use those terms on the record if the report were indeed “completely false” and “ridiculous,” so we pointed that out.

So then 49ers CEO Jed York decided to address the situation on Twitter.  “Report isn’t true,” York said.

It’s unclear whether York takes issue with all or just part of the report.  He has declined a request to elaborate, explaining to PFT that he has nothing more to add.

Enter Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

“Browns did indeed make a run at Jim Harbaugh that reached a serious stage, sources confirm substance of @ProFootballTalk report,” Mortensen said via Twitter.

Given the sensitive nature of the relationship between the 49ers and Harbaugh — a relationship sufficiently volatile to apparently prompt the 49ers to consider ending it — it’s easy to understand why the 49ers would take the position that the report isn’t true.  Since the trade didn’t happen, the 49ers need to work with Harbaugh.

They also may need to sign Harbaugh to a long-term contract, breaking the impasse that currently exists, according to Matt Maiocco of

In the end, the biggest winner could be Harbaugh.  For the 49ers to persuade the average fan that they really didn’t think about divorcing Harbaugh, the 49ers may need to renew the vows.

Vows written by Harbaugh.

105 responses to “Mort confirms “substance” of our Harbaugh report

  1. Good for you guys. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how this situation pans out.

  2. This is the biggest crock ever purported by a sports news organization.

    Everyone from the Niners brass has refuted it, the Browns haven’t exactly denied or confirmed it, therefore it must be true?

  3. Harbaugh is all but a lame duck now. So who’s the next coach in SF, geniuses? It just took you nearly 15 years to find another good one after the Bill Walsh contingent finally wore off of the franchise. SF fans need to blame the geeks surrounding Jed York who got rid of McCloughan and are probably rubbing Harbaugh the wrong way, too.

  4. Why would he leave a great team that was built before him and he inherited, for a team that he would have to try to build. Makes sense for harbough to stay away from something that is clearly above his level of coaching and managerial skills. Not a knock on him just a smart move knowing when he would be above his skill set.

  5. Miami Dolphins 2014 goals:

    Be terrible

    Obtain the 1st overall pick (Jameis Winston)

    Fire Joe Philbin

    Sign Harbaugh for the same 10 million Ross was offering him 3 years ago to be the head coach

  6. the 2nd place niners should move on from JH….
    he will never get past the defending world champion SEAHAWKS….

  7. After 49ers made a run at Manning, didn’t they deny it after and try recommit to Alex Smith?

    Trent Baalke gets so much credit for 49ers recent success yet Scot Mccloughan put together the core of that team. Who knows if the trade talks are true or not but its not sounding very stable for a guy with that many wins in the last few years.

  8. This tells me that someone in Harbaugh’s camp leaked this information. Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s not a good idea to anger a coach who has brought this franchise back from mediocrity.

  9. Guys, the issue here has never been about the 49ers being unwilling to pay Jim Harbaugh. They’re not a cheap franchise and never have been (see Jed York trying to desperately lure Pete Carroll with the big bucks during the prime of USC’s run).

    The impasse is because Jim is refusing to budge on his outlandish demand that he be paid on a tier commensurate with Super Bowl winning coaches such as Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh, Sean Payton, and Bill Belichick. Except, unlike those guys, Jim hasn’t actually, you know, WON the Super Bowl.

    Their brass is correct about determining that, although he’s a fairly competent coach, most of the stars on that team were inherited; Willis, J. Smith, Staley, Gore, V. Davis, Bowman, etc. were excellent long before he got there. Just because Singletary was uniquely terrible doesn’t mean Harbaugh is an elite coach. Or did you all think Jim Caldwell was the next Vince Lombardi because the Colts went 14-2 and made the Super Bowl in his first season as a head coach?

  10. Guys, the issue here has never been about the 49ers being unwilling to pay Jim Harbaugh. They’re not a cheap franchise and never have been (see Jed York trying to desperately lure Pete Carroll with the big bucks during the prime of USC’s run).

    The impasse is because Jim is refusing to budge on his outlandish demand that he be paid on a tier commensurate with Super Bowl winning coaches such as Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh, Sean Payton, and Bill Belichick. Except, unlike those guys, Jim hasn’t actually, you know, WON the Super Bowl.

    Their brass is correct about determining that, although he’s a fairly competent coach, most of the stars on that team were inherited; Willis, J. Smith, Staley, Gore, V. Davis, Bowman, etc. were excellent long before he got there. Just because Singletary was uniquely terrible doesn’t mean Harbaugh is an elite coach. Or did you all think Jim Caldwell was the next Vince Lombardi because the Colts went 14-2 and made the Super Bowl in his first season as a head coach?

  11. If they don’t lock him down this could make for some interesting destinations for him in 2015, like the Dolphins for example.

  12. Regardless the terms of the agreement, the salary or the author of the contract/vows, this sounds like a marriage which traps the parties so tightly, that the first awakening partner, one morning, will decide to gnaw off one of the jointly ensnarled limbs in an act of desperation simply to escape. It’s a bit of a shame…transcendent football ability mixed with interpersonal skills so stunningly small as to deny measurement. I suppose this is the textbook definition of a Diva.

  13. While moving Harbaugh may sound crazy, especially considering his short yet successful track record, imagine where the 49ers would be if they gained the extra draft picks that were received in the Jon Gruden trade. Assuming the Browns offered a barrel of picks, I think it would be prudent for the 49ers to consider the trade. Talent is more important to a team than a coach. I am sure the Jets wished they would’ve traded Rex for some picks after his first couple playoff losses.

  14. It sounds like something is brewing. SF has come away from the playoffs twice and division. Fans have been complaining about Roman, kaepernick and Harbaugh. Hope it all gets straightened out.

  15. So let me get this straight. You received a report from an unnamed source that was refuted by an unnamed source, then again refuted by the only person named with any credibility, then another unnamed source told someone else from another media outlet who told you the original report was true and somehow you end up with credibility in this whole story? Solid “journalism” right there folks.

  16. (By confirming)
    Browns – see fans we are trying to improve our team anyway we can
    (By Denying)
    49ers -There is nothing to see here

    Just checking, Harbaugh is from Ohio and didnt Lombardi have a hand in hiring both Harbarghs at the Eagles and Raiders?
    So who do I believe – Browns and the story

  17. I’m not sure that there really is a fire to put out on the 49ers part.. If indeed harbaugh turned it down then it means he’s willing to stay.. atleast another year, Fans are not going to stop spending money as long as the 49ers keep winning at the clip they have been. If Both sides are interested at possibly parting ways.. the 49ers will get the compensation they want when the time comes to make that call.

  18. I can understand why 49ers managment might not care if they let him go,Sounds like an ego thing Hardbaugh didn’t build this team all the top players were there when he walked in the door.With the exception of Kapernick and a few others.He turned it into a winner but all good coaches walking into that team could have done the same.Mike Singletary just wasn’t a good enough coach.The Rift makes sense Hardbaugh wants all the Credit Management thinks they deserve all of it,and that’s where the egos clash

  19. And the 49ers weren’t pursuing Peyton Manning either. Deny, deny until you die Mr. York.

  20. Harbaugh should hold out for as much as possible. What is York going to do, hire Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, or Mike Singletary again?

  21. This is old already. The guys got 2 years on his deal and not a lame duck coach this year…enough with this forcing of an extension already

  22. Would this have been more stupid than Jerry Jones firing Jimmy Johnson? I say too close to call.

  23. I think the real hilarity here is that the Browns can’t even identify the right NFC West coach to poach. Try the one who actually WON the Super Bowl and built the team from the ground up with brilliant innovation against conventional NFL stereotypes, and always has his teams playing with snarling, unapologetic aggression on Sundays. That would be Pete Carroll.

  24. To the Santa Clara fans in denial about this, remember that Bill Parcells left the Patriots after losing the Super Bowl due to organizational differences too.

  25. This whole thing smells to me of a talent agent trying to land a big payday for his client — and nothing more. I wouldn’t put it past big-name agents to spread lies.

    After all — the 9ers would have gained NOTHING through this deal. They would have crippled their organization, after spending over a decade trying to find a coach who could win with the talent already on the roster. Look at the core players on the offense and defense. Many of them have been the core players on O and D since 2005, 2006, 2007.

    Why on earth would the 49ers have seriously considered a deal that wouldn’t have benefited them — a deal that would have broken their proverbial kneecaps? I bet the players would have mutinied if the deal had happened. Deals like this don’t happen unless both sides think they’re getting a good deal. There is no compensation package that Cleveland could have given San Fran which would have made it a good deal for them. Therefore, I don’t believe these reports on any level.

  26. Harbaugh: hmmmm, let’s see… playoff contending 49ers or… the factory of sadness? 49ers…. factory of sadness?

  27. Typos makes no sense. You’re saying that the 49ers need to mend fences with Harbaugh and make the fans think they wanted him all along, yet at the same time the only reason it didn’t happen was because Harbaugh didn’t sign off on it. What would be the point of the 49ers denying this if he knew about it all along? That just doesn’t add up.

  28. Wow, why would they want to get rid of Jim Harbaugh? He does throw some annoying sideline tantrums, but the guy can coach. I think Seattle / San Fran is one of the great new budding rivalries. I think the tensions between Harbaugh and Pete Carrol helps make this rivalry more interesting. I hope he stays in San Fran.

  29. Not a surprise, tension has been in place for a few years now at the top. Ego can always cause a rift which until now had been kept mostly in check.

  30. I can see the browns reaching out to SF, but I doubt SF seriously considered any offer. the browns are the biggest train wreck in the nfl – and jimmy haslam makes jerry jones and dan snyder look competent. I think florio got duped and is desperately trying to cover his arse.

  31. Harbaugh is the reason I can’t get behind the 9ers at all. Cannot stand the guy and apparently neither can the 9er brass. They were going to trade the guy that has had them in the conference championship 3 outta 3 years and a SB appearance. I think that says a lot about the guy….

  32. seriously doubt that was ever going to happen. Harbaugh has a lot of ties to the bay area. He would not want to be in the same division as his brother. He’s got a great team, tons of draft picks this year, and moving into a new stadium this fall. This is just a dance to determine what he gets paid. He is staying, he knows he is staying, and the 49ers know he is staying.

  33. It would be nuts for the Niners to let Harbaugh go from a football standpoint. The team went a combined 46-82 in the seven years before his arrival, and he’s since taken them to three straight conference championships and a Superbowl.

  34. How odd that Ian rapport , mort and florio all say the same thing. Must be one of those strangest coincidences since the history of man times 100 a+++. Really hard to take harbaughs denial seriously as he is so full of bs all the time. ( his ex players are probably laughing their butts off right now) I’m glad he stayed though, the dufus Yorks were planning to bring in tomsula as hc. ( flashes of Ericsson all over again)
    I’ll take an obnoxious mike Dikta over another rookie nobody any day. Can’t help but wonder what a Reid, shanahan, holmgren Kubiak or grudin would do with this team of pro bowlers.

  35. I’m a hawks fan through and through, We are Super Bowl Champions. We are the best team in the league. and I’ll tell you this, Jim, as much as I can’t stand the guy, keeps the hawks in their toes. If the ’49ers let him go it will be one of the biggest mistakes they could possibly make.

  36. As a Browns fan I have slammed upper management hard over the last few weeks, but this type of thinking gives me more faith that maybe someone know what they are doing.

  37. Can’t really call the 49ers management “completely insane” unless you know the terms of the deal. It could very well be that the Browns offer was “completely insane” and one the 49ers couldn’t refuse.

    If I had to guess which team’s management was completely insane…

  38. Wait, you demand that people put stuff on the record now? Just about every article on pft is based off of the reliable, “unnamed source”.

    Pretty funny that Jed York straightened you out without needing unnamed source.

  39. Interesting. How bad must the relationship between the two be for the 9er’s to dump a coach who took the from sad sack to three time NFC Championship game participant?

  40. I’m a ‘Hawks fan and even I understand what an outstanding coach Harbaugh has been. So for the 49ers to have seriously considered this possibility, there must be a huge rip in the relationship between Harbaugh and management. If Harbaugh can be so crazy on the sidelines, he must be nuts to work with on a day-to-day basis.

  41. Obviously the brain trust in SF values Balke over Hairball. The stags are gonna fight sooner or later, better to give one their own territory elsewhere.

  42. More than one media outlet has reported on this trade so it obviously has some merit. I’m sure the two franchises had a trade worked out in principle but a clause on Harbaugh’s contract gave him final day on whether he can be traded to another franchise. Would have been extremely interesting had the deal gone through.

  43. Cleveland’s deal to S.F. Take everything, we just want Harbaugh.

    S.F. Seriously? We’re listening.

    Cleveland: Absolutely, take it all.

    S.F. What’s that fine print?

    Cleveland: You take Jim Brown.

    S.F. What deal? Just rumors

  44. Does that photo show Coach Harbaugh in negotiations with the front office?

    If he takes his thin skinned, humorless behavior inside the building after the game, little wonder that the 49er poobahs wanted to get rid of him.

  45. I personally think Jim Harbaugh is unstable immature and pompous person… But he’s a helluva football coach and the 9er’s would be out of there mind to trade him with his past record. It would be the worst mistake since SanDawg fired Schottenhiemer.


  47. I’m not saying Harbaugh hasn’t done a good job, because he has. Actually, he’s done a great job.

    But he did inherit a team loaded with talent. And he’s being compared to Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary, so he was in a “can’t lose” situation when you factor in those two cartoons. That’s why he took the job.

    But the problem is Kaepernick and how Harbaugh begged Baalke to select him in the second round when nobody else in the organisation wanted anything to do with him. Reports of Baalke and Harbaugh butting heads started coming out just around the time everyone was realising Kaepernick was a mistake. And that is looking like what could be the biggest mistake in NFL history.

    I guess we’ll see what the 49ers really think of Kaepernick when they do re-sign him and what they’re signing him for. IF they re-sign him. It would have been a good time for Jimbo to jump ship, and when Kaepernick fails, he could always say Kaeperstupid failed because he wasn’t there to help him.

    All kinds of rumours out there again. And the 2nd round of Josh Freeman stories say a lot.

  48. What does the 49ers mgmt have against going to the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship in his first two seasons? I’m a Patriots fan and I root for this guy.

  49. The 49ers ownership needs to think back, just a few years…maybe they would rather rehired Mike Singletary?

    …OR, maybe the Yorks family would prefer Mike Nolan as their head coach?

    I used to think that owners were very smart people…then Art Modell made me pause.

    …The “York family” and their crazy notion that Harbaugh is expendable, unwilling to pay him as one of the top HCs in the NFL…they are working hard to gain a place on the worst NFL owners list.

    …PAY THE MAN !

    As for the Browns, they couldn’t even buy themselves a coach….ah, err, “trade” (draft picks) for a coach.
    …WHY?…same reason other coaching candidates turned the Browns HC position down…Harbaugh didn’t want to work for Joe Banner.

  50. This story is very distressing for any 49er fan who stuck with the team through the 2000s. If management does ANYTHING but extend Harbaugh’s contract for 3+ years, I am going to be absolutely livid.

    If it comes down to Harbaugh or Baalke, I sure know who I’d pick. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Trent.

  51. I think a prerequisite for being part of NFL upper management is that you have to be a compulsive liar. These GM’s almost always seem to be full of it whenever they say anything.

  52. This is truly bizarre…but not surprising, both Harbaugh and SF Management enjoy that behavior.

  53. This is awesome! Got to love The Browns, most interesting team off the field year after year!

  54. The Browns have a coach.
    The 49er’s have a coach.
    This may have been an interesting story before the Browns hired Pettine but now it is just stirring the pot for lack of “substance” to put out there.

  55. I like what Harbaugh`s people have done here at this stage of contract negotiations. Have a team show serious interest, everybody knows somebody on every team, register a bid ( White elephant ) Harbaugh was always going to refuse, result. Harbaugh gets a few extra million the people who helped get a brown envelope and maybe something football related down the road.

  56. No doubt the thought of playing the Steelers twice a year kept him from taking the Cle job.

  57. Trade players/draft picks for a guy who does press confernces and should not be on the field w/o a penalty? The niners would be crazy to not consider it

  58. If true the Browns would have to give up the farm to get him. So if the trade went through Harbaugh wouldn’t have anything to work with and probably would get fired after 2-3 years. Something just doesn’t add up. But it would be a crazy headline if it went through. It would of shocked the whole NFL.

  59. Jim you are going to Cleveland and you have no draft picks but.. you will have the reigns. Well ?, what do you say ? Jim ? Jim ? ” Ahh I think Trent and I can learn to work together”.

  60. 4letter late to the party again. So many other places to get better and more accurate sports news.

  61. I think if I am Jed York I listen to every single offer of another NFL owner that might make your team better. If the Browns came with some crazy great deal, you should listen to it. The Cowboys traded Herschel Walker to Minnesota and turned the draft picks into 3 superbowls. Yes, it would be hard to instantly find a coach as good as Harbaugh. On the other hand that situation would be crazy good for any coach: already a top team, brand new stadium, presumably great draft picks on top of the good supply they already have this year. That would be a job that would interest a lot of people, maybe some guys that say they are done with the NFL: John Gruden, Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Nick Saben, etc. You can argue Harbaugh’s ability both ways: he started with a team loaded with talent that was ineptly coached or that he took a team that was previously sucking and made them top contenders every year. Clearly, had his luck broke a little differently, he might have won a superbowl already.

    Bottom line is, NFL owners are a small club. You don’t piss anyone off who might be a trade partner. If they make a serious offer for Harbaugh, you listen to it and see if it makes sense. In this case it didn’t.

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