ORLANDO, Fla. -- If you were in disbelief when you read that the Browns nearly pulled off a trade for Jim Harbaugh last month, you had plenty of company. It caught his own brother off guard, too.
"I laughed," John Harbaugh said today during a breakfast for AFC coaches. "Well, first I got kind of ticked off because he didn't tell me about this. I'm his brother! I'm supposed to know."
The older Harbaugh said he was sitting next to Jim at the scouting combine in Indianapolis when the news broke. "He was kind of incredulous," John said. "I'm sure there was some conversation. I think everybody said there was a dialogue, you know? But how serious it was and what kind of ... I guess it's fun to talk about. So, hey, we talk about it on our team. You always have to make the team better, so I guess the Browns were trying to make their team better."
Did John ever contemplate facing his brother at least twice a season as AFC North rivals? "Only briefly," he said. "Until I found out there was nothing to it. Nah, I never really thought about that because I didn't hear about it until after the fact. It was at the combine when it all broke. I think I might have been sitting next to him. That would be very tough."
One of the themes of John Harbaugh's chat with reporters was the tough choices the Ravens have to make on their roster. That's largely because a big chunk of the salary cap is going to one player, quarterback Joe Flacco, whose salary averages just more than $20 million a season. The 49ers soon may be facing the same situation. They are negotiating a contract extension with Colin Kaepernick, something that Jim Harbaugh said was a "high priority" to be completed before the season begins.
"It boils down to math," John Harbaugh said. "Because that's a big chunk out of your bookkeeping. And it's really going to hit us this year and next year and going forward. ... So we've got to make tough decisions like (linebacker) Jameel McClain (signed by the Giants), and you've got to determine where you're going to spend your money."
"And it's a decision-by-decision process like playing golf," he continued. "You've got to play the shots you're presented with. Sometimes you go for the pin and sometimes you've got to knock it out from the woods, you know? And when your quarterback's making that much money, you've got more tough shots to make. They'll do good job in San Francisco. They're really smart. They know what they're doing."
Is that a conversation he's had with his brother? John Harbaugh laughed. "We don't talk as much about that stuff as you might think," he said. "We talk more about which rides (to take) at Disney, what order."
Speaking of amusement park attractions, what did John think about his brother's push-up contest with walrus last week at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo? John was impressed - but mostly that a walrus can do a pushup.
"We saw a walrus at Sea World on Sunday - they're very huge," he gushed. "So I'm shocked a walrus would be able to do a pushup. They're like as wide as this table right here. Have you seen a walrus in person? I don't think they'd be able to do pushups. They don't have any arms."
Was he as shocked that Jim could do a pushup? More laughter.
"I'd get in trouble with Sarah if I said anything," John said.
-- Matt Barrows