Programming note: 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco is on the ground in Indianapolis to cover the NFL Combine. Check back for his coverage all weekend and get the full report on SportsNet Central every night at 6 and 10:30 p.m.
This Cleveland Browns-nearly-traded-for-Jim-Harbaugh story has to be a goof now, right? Complete and utter shash, no? A classic slow-news-day-reporters-in-a-tavern-what’s-the-silliest-story-we-can-think-of talker gone viral, surely?
Hell, who knows? And frankly, who cares? This is good enough on its face to fuel literally months of whack-job speculation on Harbaugh’s place in the 49er hierarchy, the Browns’ thought processes in gutting their draft for a single khaki’d-brain, and this most disturbing of notions:
Whether or not Harbaugh or his agent thought he needed a no-trade clause in his contract.
[RELATED: Report: Browns nearly acquired Harbaugh from 49ers via trade]
The Browns, according to the tale, would have sent “multiple” draft choices to the 49ers, who already have a couple of hundred of them, in exchange for the mercurial-successful Harbaugh, and that Harbaugh turned the Browns down on the perfectly sensible theory that he would destroy his career working for Jimmy Haslam and The Dysfunctionaires.
According to the noted monitor of such things M. Florio of Pro Football Talk, a deal was “in place” when Harbaugh demurred. Now the question of what “in place” actually means becomes the crux of the tale, but as a concept, a theory and perhaps even as an executable plan, this would have been the greatest, worst and most bizarre deal since the 1989 Herschel Walker-for-five-players-and-eight-picks trade in . . . and maybe since the 1959 Ollie Matson-for-9-actual-already-vetted-and-paid-players deal.
And it should have happened, because we’d be talking about it for decades. And after all, isn’t that the only real reason for football to exist at all?
That the Browns allegedly thought it was a good idea should come as no surprise. They couldn’t run a fire drill out of a one-room, one-door bungalow with one person inside. That the 49ers apparently (if this story is actually a real thing) proposed it to Harbaugh as a “What do you want to do?” option makes you wonder if they actually have a price in mind for their head coach.
But the best thought of all is how long Harbaugh actually thought about it if it was presented to him? A nanosecond? An hour? A day? A week? He’ll never say anything other than “I never considered it at all,” which may or may not be true, but does it really matter in the end? Aren’t we really more invigorated by the possibility anyway? And isn’t this the height of creativity on somebody’s part, whether it be Haslam’s, Jedediah York, Harbaugh himself or whoever had polished off that Johnnie Walker Blue and blurted out, “Hey, how about this one?”
I mean, it puts a control freak in a completely uncontrollable situation, which is always an amusement. It suggests that the 49ers have a limit in mind on their Harbaughian love. And for sure it makes Alex Smith double over in the kind of laughter than makes him shoot his appendix out his nose.
Now who wouldn’t want that?
Well, the NFL, for one. The Combine as a news event would die, dead. This story would have lasted an entire week, minimum, and then been dredged up at every OTA, training camp session and opening week game. The levels of damage it would do to the number of psyches involved would be spectacular.
And, finally, it would mean the end of the phrase, “You can’t make it up.” Because somebody did, and it was a stone masterpiece no matter how false it might have been.
Think of it. An actual reason for off-season football. Beat that with a series of sticks.