INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL Scouting Combine was rocked late Friday afternoon by a ProFootballTalk report that said the Browns were close to obtaining San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
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.
"I echo Jed York's comment ... 'isn't true,'" Harbaugh told ESPN's Ed Werder in a text message. "I know nothing about a trade with the Cleveland Browns and us, involving me."
"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.
Browns CEO Joe Banner, who only has a few months left with the team, acknowledged weeks ago that there was a "mystery candidate" for the Browns' head-coaching job that was never revealed.
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.
On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys speculate on big names who could be cut, then talk offseason forecasts for the Packers and Raiders.