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February 22, 2014
New Browns coach calls team's pursuit of Jim Harbaugh a positive


INDIANAPOLIS -- New Browns coach Mike Pettine got a heads up yesterday that a report soon would appear that said the Browns nearly completed a trade that would make the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh their head coach.

Pettine admitted his initial reaction was a bit animated.

"I shot the messenger a little bit," he said today at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Because I asked him, 'How does that affect my tenure as head coach?' And then in the next sentence, maybe I used the word 'flying' followed by something (laughter) or referenced a part of a rat's body."

But Pettine said he ultimately decided that a pursuit of Harbaugh, who has gone to three straight NFC Championship games, showed the Browns were intent on changing their losing ways. "When you look at it, I think that it shows that the organization is committed to getting it turned around, that it would investigate that option," he said. "Me, I see that as a positive."

Pettine's words were an acknowledgment that, at least in his mind, an attempt was made by the Browns to land Harbaugh. Both Harbaugh and 49ers owner Jed York have denied the initial report from Pro Football Talk, which said that it was Harbaugh who ultimately nixed a deal. The 49ers and Harbaugh have been negotiating an extension to Harbaugh's contract.

Pettine, however, said that the Browns' coaching search has no bearing on him or the organization. The two men who conducted it, Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner, were fired earlier this month. The team hired Ray Farmer as its new general manager.

"I think that's noise," Pettine said. "It's something that has no bearing on my job moving forward. I think that's a critical thing. I think a big part of being an NFL head coach is dealing with the noise and dealing with the distraction and you can just add that one to the list."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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