SAN FRANCISCO -- 49ers quarterback Alex Smith's approval rating in the Bay Area is strong, to quite strong. The latest indicator: He is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the San Francisco Giants' playoff-opener Saturday night against the Cincinnati Reds.
Nearly two years ago to the day, Smith became so reviled by 49ers fans they chanted "We Want Carr," a nutty plea to have Smith replaced by undistinguished backup David Carr during a 27-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on an Oct. 10, 2010 game.
Since then, Smith's life has been on the uptick. Last year, he started every game for the NFC West-champion 49ers en route to the NFC Championship game. He and his wife Elizabeth also became first-time parents.
On Sunday, Smith will lead the 49ers (3-1) up against the Buffalo Bills (2-2) to start a three-game homestand, in baseball parlance.
His only pass Saturday night will travel about 20 yards without any chance of an interception -- and that's pretty much his recipe for career-saving success under coach Jim Harbaugh.
Smith's affection for the Giants is well documented, particularly with his desire to wear a Giants cap, which he did after games last season but can not this season or he'll face a $15,000 fine from the sponsor-conscious NFL.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy has been a staunch Smith supporter since that cap-fine story emerged last month. A couple hours before Smith's 20-yard-6-inch pitch, Bochy told reporters (as relayed by Bay Area News Group's Alex Pavlovic): "This club has a lot of 49ers fans. We may take a look at him, he's got a pretty good arm."
Also attending the Giants' playoff opener is 49ers CEO Jed York, along with his wife Danielle, who's expecting the couple's first child. Earlier Saturday, Jed York tweeted: "Can you think of a better date w/ your 39 week pregnant wife than @SFGiants playoff baseball? Can't wait for 1st pitch #HerIdea #BornFan"