Now those associated with the unsuccessful deal are willing to come clean.
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam confirmed he spoke with the San Francisco 49ers about possibly obtaining head coach Jim Harbaugh during an interview with USA TODAY Sports.
"There was an opportunity there, and it didn't materialize," Haslam told USA TODAY Sports.
Meanwhile, 49ers CEO Jed York, who previously denied a deal was in place to deal Harbaugh, now admits there were talks between both teams.
“The Browns reached out to me, and we had no interest in pursuing it,” York told Peter King of TheMMQB.com.
Haslam and York are saying two different things.
York, who has more to gain by not telling the truth, probably does not want to appear as an executive trying to run his coach out of town. Harbaugh is entering the fourth year of a five-year deal, which pays him $5 million a year. The 49ers have been unable to work out a long-term deal with Harbaugh, and the last thing York needs is animosity during negotiations.
However, as ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio notes, Haslam’s willingness to admit there was an “opportunity” proves these talks progressed past a simple inquiry. It may take a while before we discover how detailed those conversations were, but there seemingly is more to it than York wants to admit.
If San Francisco ultimately reworks Harbaugh’s contract, this story will eventually fade away. Nevertheless, the inability to work out a new deal for Harbaugh, coupled with York’s failed attempt at a cover-up, shows there is not a harmonious relationship between the coach and front office in San Francisco.
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