Report: Browns almost traded for Jim Harbaugh

Was Jim Harbaugh on the verge of heading for Cleveland?

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – When it comes to the Cleveland Browns, the seemingly unbelievable is almost always in play.

Example No. 492 of that dropped on Friday afternoon.

That’s when Pro Football Talk reported that the Browns "nearly" pulled off a trade last month for the rights to San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. The report said a deal that would have sent multiple draft picks to San Francisco was in place between the teams, but Harbaugh ultimately decided not to leave the 49ers.

What makes that crazy thought even crazier is that the Browns didn’t deny it.

In a statement released to Browns beat writers, including FOX Sports Ohio’s Fred Greetham, by team public relations head Zak Gilbert, the team said it "explored several options" in an "extensive coaching search" that eventually "produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine, and we’re excited about his future with the club."

Pettine was hired in late January, two days after his second interview with the team was conducted in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl. The Browns fired Rob Chudzinski after one year as head coach on the day of the 2013 season finale.

Since Pettine’s hiring, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has fired CEO Joe Banner and Banner’s hand-picked general manager, Michael Lombardi. Those moves were announced last week, when Ray Farmer was promoted to general manager.

Harbaugh has guided the 49ers to three NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl in three years as head coach. He’s under contract with the 49ers for two more seasons.

An NFL Network report Friday afternoon, citing 49ers sources, called the report of a potential Browns-Harbaugh trade "completely false…ridiculous."

Just about anything is believable when it comes to the Browns, though, and Pettine had better not get too comfortable. Pettine is set to address the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday.