The Jim Harbaugh-Browns story continues to rumble along and we're left with a spectrum of possible explanations for why this information is out there. Mike Florio broke this story, claiming a deal was in place that at least involved some picks. He subsequently went on 95.7 The Game to discuss the story, and he basically doubled-down on it. He absolutely guaranteed his story is accurate, and then spent most of the interview offering up nothing more than speculation.
Since the story published, Jed York has denied the report, going on Twitter to say "Report isn't true." Since that tweet, we've seen some tweets from various media claiming they had heard some rumblings about this, but either didn't think it was true, or couldn't get sources to confirm.
Early this evening, Peter King sent out this tweet:
I am told the 49ers never discussed trade terms for coach Jim Harbaugh with Cleveland brass.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) February 22, 2014
That doesn't tell us a whole lot, but it's one more little tidbit. Jed York denied PFT's report that a deal was in place, but that leaves open plenty of room for there having been some kind of discussion about the topic. If any discussion occurred, we don't know who was involved, which makes it all the more mysterious. We're left with a certain vacuum about what is going on, and it will subsequently be filled with endless speculation.
We've heard multiple reports in the past about how there is some tension between Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke. If we continue to see various rumors thrown out there like this, it's hard not to see more to this issue. That of course leads to questions about Jim Harbaugh's future, and whether or not the team will get a deal done for an extension. There is some talk about whether the team will give him top of the line money without a Super Bowl, or if they'd prefer a more incentive-laden deal.
But then, there's also the question of if Jim Harbaugh wants more power. If he wants more personnel power, there is always the chance a power struggle results in either Harbaugh or Baalke departing. And of course, going to a place like Cleveland could have given Harbaugh a chance to potentially prove he could build his own squad. This is all speculation, and he's obviously not going to Cleveland at this point. While the Browns are out of the picture, the whole situation remains unsettled.
This kind of thing is why I think it can be easier operating as a beat writer. They can view this story from a relatively objective lense. It creates a lot of controversy, and thus content. While Niners Nation can benefit from this controversy, it doesn't make it easier for me as a 49ers fan. I operate this site from the mindset of a fan, not an objective journalist. These kinds of stories are difficult to write about because of how much I feel like I have invested in this team as a fan. It's similar to covering the team after losses, particularly big losses. When the 49ers have lost their final game of the season the last three years, it has been absolutely brutal. I have a hunch it is not quite the same emotional impact for the beat writers. And thus, it is the same for a story like this given all that Harbaugh has brought to us as fans.
There will be some overreactions related to this story, but that's part of the nature of us being fans. We'll provide all the details as we find them, but we'll also have some slightly subjective opining on the matter!