*Photo credit – nflravens via Flickr.
According to a rather shocking report from Pro Football Talk, the Cleveland Browns nearly acquired San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh via trade when they were conducting their lengthy coaching search back in January.
The report says that the 49ers and Browns came to terms on a trade that would’ve sent multiple draft picks to San Francisco in exchange for the coach, but ultimately Harbaugh decided against leaving the 49ers. The Browns eventually settled on former Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to be their head coach.
Harbaugh has led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons at the helm, and enjoyed a successful run at Stanford prior to becoming an NFL head coach. This would’ve been incredibly shocking for several reasons, not the least of which is that leaving the mighty 49ers and San Francisco voluntarily to take a job with one of the most dysfunctional franchises in American pro sports would’ve made very little sense.
In order for San Francisco to be willing to let Harbaugh depart, one would imagine the Browns probably offered one or both of their upcoming first-round draft choices. In order for Harbaugh to even consider leaving his current situation, Cleveland must have offered him a crapload of cash. Had this happened, the 49ers likely would’ve had little issue finding another strong candidate to lead the club, if not by simply promoting one of their current assistants.
It’s likely for the best that the Browns didn’t part with two (or more) major assets just to lure a coach, though having Harbaugh in charge would’ve brought instant legitimacy to a team desperately in need of such a thing.
Instead, good luck, Mike Pettine!