Niners CEO Jed York quickly said on Twitter that the report "isn't true." NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that the Browns did make a run at Harbaugh, as did the University of Texas, per sources informed of the Browns' thinking. But Harbaugh wasn't interested in the move, per Rapoport.
Now Harbaugh is going on the record with a strong denial as well.
The Browns, meanwhile, issued a statement that didn't exactly confirm or deny the story.
"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," the Browns said in a statement.
The 49ers and Harbaugh both previously have expressed public interest in a contract extension. No deal was able to be reached last offseason. CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reported Friday that the 49ers are "believed to be offering less in guaranteed money on a short-term deal" for Harbaugh, with him only reaching the upper levels of NFL coaches if he wins a Super Bowl. One source told Maiocco that the 49ers are not expected to pay Harbaugh like a Super Bowl-winning coach if he has not won a Super Bowl.
This news of the Browns' interest oddly could help Harbaugh. It's more important than ever for the franchise and Harbaugh to present a united front to their fans and players. A new contract would accomplish that.