Updates from Monday, Mar. 3
Newly re-signed WR Anquan Boldin provided his take on Jim Harbaugh via Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee:
Boldin: "I don't think anybody in our locker room has a problem with coach Harbaugh." Said he laughed at the notion of a rift.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) March 4, 2014
Michael Rosenberg of Sports Illustrated caught up with Harbaugh to get his thoughts on the situation:
I asked Harbaugh about these rumors. Let's start with the last one first. Can he envision a scenario in which he leaves the 49ers before his contract expires?
"No," Harbaugh said. "Zero opportunity or chance of that in my mind."
"I see all these reports about how I want to be the highest-paid coach in football," Harbaugh said. "They presume I covet some kind of extension. I have never said to anybody that I want to be the highest-paid coach in football. I have never said that to anybody -- my wife, my brother, my dad. I make plenty of money.
"The other one is that I want more power. I have never said that, nor do I want any more power than I have. I coach the team. I've told my owner I don't want any more power. I want to coach the team. And I've never told anybody else otherwise."
When the topic came to when the right time for an extension would be, Harbaugh wasn't exactly clear:
"I don't know. What I do know is this: I make plenty of money. And I don't do five times as much work as any other coach on the staff. I get paid extremely well. Jed York has always been square dealing with me. I don't think about that as an issue ... I've seen it written like fact: 'Harbaugh wants to be the highest paid coach in football', or 'desperately covets a new contract'. For the record: I make plenty of money. I mean, plenty of money.'"
Updates from Sunday, Mar. 2
Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle has the latest on Jim Harbaugh's relationship with the San Francisco 49ers:
But on the other hand, the friction has gotten worse. And given the events of the past week, it's become public. So there's no pretending that everything is fine.
And from what I've been told, the tension isn't just upstairs in the building. One source with inside knowledge of the team says that Harbaugh's act has worn thin in the locker room, particularly among some key "face of the 49ers" type players. While the team is winning, that's not a problem. But a few losses could expose a widening rift.
Updates from Sunday, Feb. 23
USA Today's Jarrett Bell spoke with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who confirmed that the two sides did indeed discuss Cleveland acquiring Jim Harbaugh from the 49ers:
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam confirmed talks occurred with the San Francisco 49ers about possibly obtaining head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Although Harbaugh and 49ers owner John York denied that a deal was in the works to exchange the coach for draft pick, Haslam confirmed the talks.
"There was an opportunity there, and it didn't materialize," Haslam told USA TODAY Sports.
49ers CEO Jed York also commented on the rumors surrounding Harbaugh (via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee):
How far did the conversation get? "Not far at all," York said. "We had no interest in entering those discussions."
ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that a first-round pick was not part of the compensation the Browns offered, lending credence to the stance that any trade discussion was short-lived.
Asked why he initially offered a flat denial of the PFT story, York said it's because the story wasn't true. The original story said the two sides nearly pulled off a trade for Harbaugh and that it was Harbaugh who ultimately decided not to leave the 49ers.
Asked why he waited to address the story, York said he and the 49ers have a policy to keep trade discussions private. "We keep calls to ourselves," he said. "I see no reason talking about another team - that's how we do business."
The Cleveland Browns' desperate head coaching search might have been even more desperate than previously assumed.
According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, multiple league sources say that the Browns tried to execute a trade with the San Francisco 49ers that would have given them the rights to Jim Harbaugh. In exchange, the 49ers reportedly would have received several draft picks.
Florio also noted that the Browns neither confirmed nor denied a pursuit of Harbaugh, but admitted that they considered a plethora of head-coaching options.
49ers CEO Jed York was quick to refute the report:
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport passed along a similar message from a team source:
Ed Werder of ESPN provides an update from Jim Harbaugh:
SF Head coach Jim Harbaugh text to me on reports Niners-Browns discussed trading him: "I echo Jed York's comment - isn't true...."— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) February 22, 2014
More from Jim Harbaugh: "...I know nothing about a trade with the Cleveland Browns and us, involving me."— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) February 22, 2014
Conversely, ESPN's Chris Mortensen suggests the Pro Football Talk report does have substance:
Browns did indeed make a run at Jim Harbaugh that reached a serious stage, sources confirm substance of @ProFootballTalk report.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) February 22, 2014
Cleveland hired former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to be their head coach on Jan. 23. The Browns released the following statement after bringing him on board, per CBS Sports' John Breech:
The team conducted an extensive coaching search, and explored several options. That search produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine and we're excited about his future with the club.
Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that Pettine's status isn't impacted by the report:
Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle gives more of Pettine's take on the matter:
After Florio's report broke, Cleveland sports personality and 92.3 The Fan sports talk host Joe Lull highlighted some of the behind-the-scenes action that apparently fueled the discussion.
I told you for weeks. The Browns mystery coaching candidate? Jim Harbaugh, who wanted to work with BANNER and LOMBARDI…— Joe Lull (@LullOnSports) February 21, 2014
Harbaugh reached out to the Browns. When they called for permission to interview Roman & Tomsula, Harbaugh expressed interest himself…— Joe Lull (@LullOnSports) February 21, 2014
Harbaugh’s personal assistant in San Francisco? Myck Lombardi, Michael Lombardi’s son. Mike and Jim are close, and Jim has had it w/ Baalke.— Joe Lull (@LullOnSports) February 21, 2014
ESPNCleveland.com's Tony Grossi seconded Lull's notion regarding Harbaugh and Lombardi.
So #Browns don't deny Harbaugh story.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) February 21, 2014
Two days prior to the hiring of Pettine, the San Jose Mercury News' Cam Inman reported that Harbaugh had confirmed he'd spoken with the Browns regarding members of his staff who could potentially fill Cleveland's vacancy. However, Harbaugh kept the nature of the talks confidential: "There's possibilities. Going into further detail doesn't help our situation or their situation. Their search is their search."
As the New York Post's Bart Hubbuch points out, Harbaugh wouldn't have been the first coach to be dealt. Some of the best coaches of all time have been traded.
Jim Harbaugh would’ve been the first NFL coach traded since Herm Edwards in 2006. Jon Gruden, Belichick and Parcells also were traded.— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) February 21, 2014
Although this report is sure to stir up plenty of speculation as to where Harbaugh's heart truly lies and Cleveland's lack of direction, it does little to impact the state of either franchise moving forward.
For now, Harbaugh is the head coach of the 49ers, and Pettine is the new boss in Cleveland. With the offseason just getting underway, we'll have to wait until September to determine the repercussions of the report.
Until then, the Browns have some explaining to do.
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