It came out on Friday that the Niners and Browns had previously been in talks to complete that most rare of NFL transactions ; trading an NFL head coach (in this case, SF’s Jim Harbaugh) to Cleveland in exchange for draft picks. Clearly such an exchange could not happen without Harbaugh’s enthusiasm and a willingness on the part of Niners management to make such a radical change despite recent postseason appearances, so might understand why SF owner Jeb York would deny such discussions took place. Trouble is, his Cleveland counterpart, Jimmy Haslam pretty much spilled the beans, and NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus cannot help but note SF had previously claimed the story was “completely false”.
Haslam’s acknowledgement confirms this was one bit of business the Niners did not want getting into the public sector. It’s also not a good look for York, who was either dishonest in his response to the report or unaware the talks had taken place.
The effect this could have on the future of Harbaugh and the Niners remains to be seen. The coach has said he and general manager Trent Baalke often “butt heads.” Now the whole world knows there were talks — maybe even a deal in place — to send Harbaugh out of the organization.