There have been many eyebrow-raising trades in the history of the NFL, but the Jim Harbaugh to Cleveland deal would have ranked high up on the list, as he has a proven track record with the San Francisco 49ers.
The reported trade that would have sent the 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to the perennial bottom-dwelling Cleveland Browns for multiple draft picks reached a halt when Harbaugh decided to stay in San Fran. After the deal reached a standstill, the Browns tapped Mike Pettine to be the next coach in Cleveland. This new development illustrates that the Browns were not being lackadaisical in the hiring process like many people seemed to think, but were rather looking for a late game Hail Mary to spark the team to future success.
This is not the first time a prominent head coach has been on the trading block, but it happens so rarely that many forget it could happen. The last landmark coaching trade in the NFL happened in 2002 when coach Jon Gruden was traded from Oakland to Tampa Bay for two first round and two second round picks.
We will likely never know the particulars of this trade since the Browns already have a head coach in place and the 49ers’ front office brass are fervently denying the move, but it makes you wonder what the teams could have looked like in the future.
Cleveland would have had its coach for the future who has had success at every stop in his career, and stability is something the Browns have been seeking for quite some time now. Harbaugh has been known as the quarterback whisperer, as he has transformed several quarterbacks in his coaching career, including Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. You might think the Browns are far from a championship, but think where the 49ers were before Harbaugh came on to the scene.
If the trade was really in the works, the 49ers better thank their lucky stars that it fell through. In just a short time, Harbaugh has raised the franchise from the ashes and has led the team to back-to-back NFC championship appearances, including the run to the Super Bowl in 2013. Kaepernick has thrived under Harbaugh’s reign and the 49ers are poised to remain relevant for the foreseeable future.
You win some and you lose some, but the 49ers won big on a trade that could have had catastrophic ramifications.