SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jed York, the 49ers' CEO, disputed a report Friday that the team considered trading coach Jim Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns for multiple draft picks before opting against the blockbuster move.
A deal to ship Harbaugh's rights to the Browns was "in place" until "Harbaugh ultimately decided not to leave the 49ers," ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio reported.
York, in a Twitter post, said: "Report isn't true."
Harbaugh spoke with the media Thursday at the NFL's scouting combine in Indianapolis, and at no point did he reference the status of his 49ers tenure.
The Browns did not deny any courting of Harbaugh.
"The team conducted an extensive coaching search, and explored several options," Browns spokesman Zak Gilbert said in an emailed statement. "That search produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine and we're excited about his future with the club."
Pettine was hired Jan.23 by the Browns, who on Feb.11 announced the departures of CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi. Harbaugh and Lombardi have long ties dating to when both were with the Raiders in 2002-03; Lombardi's son Mick was an assistant to Harbaugh last season.
Harbaugh has two years remaining on a five-year, $25million deal he signed upon leaving Stanford in January 2011. York publicly expressed a desire last season to extend Harbaugh's contract, and negotiations have been expected to take place this offseason.
Harbaugh has maintained a policy of not talking about his contract. He's the first coach in the Super Bowl era to lead a team to a conference championship game in his first three seasons, advancing to the Super Bowl in the 2012 season before losing to a Baltimore Ravens team coached by his brother, John.
Tension between Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke was reported last season by Bay Area News Group columnist Tim Kawakami.
Baalke and Harbaugh have insisted that they're in lock step on the 49ers' goals. Asked Friday at the scouting combine how Harbaugh's role has changed regarding personnel, Baalke replied: "We've always worked hard together to identify the players at every position that fit our system ï¿½ï¿½ and fit the DNA of the type of players you're looking for.
"There's been no change. We continue to work hard at it. What we're trying to do is get it right for the 49ers. The best way to get it right is for everybody to be on the same page and work hard together and make the best decisions for the organization as a whole from that standpoint. Nothing's changed."
Harbaugh, 50, is a Toledo, Ohio, native. He played at Palo Alto High before moving on to the University of Michigan and then a 15-year NFL career as a quarterback. He joined the NFL coaching ranks with the Raiders in 2002-03 before becoming a head coach, first at the University of San Diego from 2004-06 and then Stanford from 2007-10.
Before Harbaugh's two-year stint on the Raiders' staff began in 2002, then-owner Al Davis traded coach Jon Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for four draft picks and $8million. The predawn trade came hours after then-49ers coach Steve Mariucci interviewed with Buccaneers ownership in Beverly Hills about that post.