SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York denied his team nearly traded coach Jim Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns last month for draft picks.
York shot down a report Friday by Pro Football Talk, posting on Twitter: “Is this on the record? Report isn’t true.” Pro Football Talk reported that a deal was in place that would have sent Harbaugh to coach Cleveland, but he opted to stay put. The 50-year-old Harbaugh just completed his third season of a $25 million, five-year contract and declined to address the subject of an extension or any scheduled talks after the season with York, who had said he hoped to meet with the coach.
The 49ers (14-5) lost to the NFC West rival and eventual Super Bowl champion Seahawks in the NFC championship game, 23-17.
A few days after San Francisco’s season, Cleveland hired Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to replace Rob Chudzinski, who was fired after going 4-12 his first year. It was the team’s sixth straight season with at least 11 losses.
“The team conducted an extensive coaching search, and explored several options,” the Browns said in a statement Friday. “That search produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine and we’re excited about his future with the club.”
Earlier this month, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam announced CEO Joe Banner would leave after helping with the transition, general manager Michael Lombardi was out immediately and Ray Farmer was promoted from assistant GM to general manager.
Harbaugh coached the 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance in 18 years after the 2012 season, and San Francisco missed out on the franchise’s sixth championship with a 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Niners lost in the NFC championship game in Harbaugh’s first season to the eventual champion New York Giants. He earned NFL Coach of the Year honors while leading the 49ers back to the playoffs following an eight-year stretch without a playoff berth or winning record.
When asked in December about speculation Texas might pursue Harbaugh to replace Mack Brown, the coach responded in his own way.
“In Judge Judy’s court, hearsay is not admissible evidence,” Harbaugh said. “I watch a lot of Judge Judy.”