One day before he throws his first pass at Candlestick Park, Alex Smith will throw out the first pitch a few miles to the north at the Giants playoff opener at AT&T Park, a source with knowledge of the event said today. The game is scheduled to begin tonight at 6:37 p.m.
Smith drew a wave of sympathy and support from the Giants last month after he revealed he had been fined $15,000 in January for wearing a black San Francisco Giants cap during a post-game press conference. The fine, which was later reduced to a warning, was because the hat manufacturer at the time was not sanctioned by the NFL.
In a show of solidarity the next day, Giants manager Bruce Bochy wore a 49ers cap before a game against the Colorado Rockies and several Giants players wore 49ers paraphernalia after it. On Wednesday, the relationship between the two clubs was cemented even more when Giants legend Willie Mays visited the 49ers, signing autographs and chatting with coach Jim Harbaugh. Mays, 81, is a hero to Harbaugh and to Harbaugh's father, Jack, and Harbaugh had said last month that one of his dreams was to shake hands with the hall-of-fame outfielder.
Smith, meanwhile, grew up in the San Diego area, and for years a Padres cap was his headware of choice. Last year, however, he underwent a conversion and has been wearing Giants gear exclusively. During the week, a Giants cap signed by the entire 2012 NL West champion squad was on display in Smith's locker.
That conversion also has coincided with Smith's revival as the 49ers quarterback. The former No. 1 overall draft pick was roundly booed by the San Francisco crowd during a nationally televised game in 2010 as fans chanted, "We want Carr! We want Carr!" for backup David Carr. However, Smith has gone 17-5 as the 49ers starting quarterback since the beginning of last season, and his bullet to tight end Vernon Davis at the end of the divisional playoff game against New Orleans delivered the 49ers their first playoff win in nearly a decade.
He's likely to go with the heater again today before the Giants take on the Reds.
(Smith is unlikely to stay for the game. The 49ers typically hold meetings at the team hotel near San Francisco International Airport beginning in the 8 p.m. hour).
-- Matt Barrows