Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said Sunday that his team and the 49ers did, indeed, discuss the prospect of a trade of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to Cleveland.

Harbaugh and 49ers CEO Jed York denied the initial report by ProFootballTalk.com. However, Haslam told USA Today on Sunday that there is something to the story.

"There was an opportunity there, and it didn't materialize," Haslam said.

The ProFootballTalk.com report said there was a deal in place for the Browns to surrender multiple draft picks for Harbaugh, with the deal being nixed by Harbaugh.

Harbaugh told this newspaper via text message Friday: "For the record, I echo Jed York's comment ... 'isn't true.' I know nothing about a trade with the Cleveland Browns and us involving me."

Haslam refused to elaborate on why the deal fell through in an interview with USA Today. Ultimately, the Browns hired Mike Pettine as their coach.

Harbaugh has two years left on the five-year, $25 million contract with the 49ers.

  • The 49ers declared Anquan Boldin priority No. 1 in terms of re-signing prospective free agents. They are close to getting Boldin back in the fold for 2014 and checking off that box.

    An ESPN report Sunday said the 49ers are "closing in" on a deal with Boldin that will keep the wide receiver from hitting the free-agent market.

    Boldin, 33, led the 49ers in catches and yards last season, with 85 and 1,178, respectively. He also scored seven touchdowns in his first season with the 49ers.

    "There's angst, and there's work to be done," Harbaugh said in Indianapolis on Thursday. " ... The direction it's going is very positive because we're unanimous. It's not just me who wants Anquan Boldin back. We feel there's a process.

    "It could be days, weeks, but there's a process, and it's going in a positive direction from the standpoint of the San Francisco 49ers."

    The 49ers have until March 8 to negotiate exclusively with Boldin, as well as any of their prospective free agents. Unrestricted free agents are free to sign with any team March 11.

    Boldin joined the 49ers in a trade from Baltimore before the 2013 season. The deal took on added significance when receiver Michael Crabtree tore an Achilles during an offseason workout and missed 11 games.