SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite this being just his second year as 49ers coach, Jim Harbaugh already knows San Francisco's parade route better than most. Harbaugh was a surprise guest at the Giants championship celebration in October and drove Brandon Belt's parade car down streets that were lined by hundreds of thousands in orange and black.
Less than three months later, Harbaugh's 49ers are one win away from a red and gold parade that would clinch a rare double for San Francisco. Only four cities have ever followed a World Series title with a Super Bowl win, and it hasn't happened since 2005, when the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl three months after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
As the 49ers try to turn San Francisco into Title Town, the Bay Area's current champions have been turned into fans.
"Couldn't be happier for them, and I'm pulling hard for them to win the championship," Giants manager Bruce Bochy wrote in a text message. "Would be great for the fans and city to have another citywide celebration!"
You don't have to look hard to find similarities between Bochy's Giants and Harbaugh's 49ers. The 49ers built their current powerhouse by putting together a dominating defense, a concept similar to the Giants' approach that a star-studded pitching staff would lead the way.
Both division champions overcame huge deficits to reach their respective championships; the Giants were down 3-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series before storming back, and the 49ers overcame an early 17-0 hole to top the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.
The most exciting similarity for Bay Area sports fans comes in the form of budding superstars Buster Posey and Colin Kaepernick. Both are 25 years old, lauded for their competitiveness, work ethic and raw talent and -- barring injury -- can be counted on to lead their respective franchises for years to come.
"They both play such crucial roles," Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said. "I can definitely see the comparison. Each took over halfway through the year for an established guy, and their teams didn't look back."
Bochy said he sees similarities but also made sure to point out the key difference: Posey became Bochy's centerpiece when Bengie Molina was traded in 2010, whereas Kaepernick became a starter only after a concussion to Alex Smith opened the door.
Smith was a popular figure in the Giants clubhouse long before the debate with Kaepernick popped up. When the NFL threatened Smith with a $15,000 fine for wearing a Giants hat in postgame interviews last September, Bochy wore a 49ers hat to a pregame press briefing.
"Alex supported us, so I'm going to support him," Bochy said. "This is our way of saying thanks."
It wasn't the only way. Second baseman Ryan Theriot bought 49ers hats for every Giant, and as they rolled through the World Series, several Giants could regularly be seen wearing the hats in the clubhouse. Smith, who later would drive Matt Cain's parade car, threw out the first pitch before Game 1 of the NLDS and met the team in the clubhouse.
The admiration went both ways. Running back Anthony Dixon and fullback Bruce Miller attended Game 1 of the World Series and bought panda hats in honor of Pablo Sandoval's three-homer performance, and Giants closer Sergio Romo and Hall of Famer Willie Mays have been recent guests of the 49ers.
Romo was one of several Giants to take to Twitter and show support after Sunday's game, writing, "What excitement that the (49ers) have brought to this city!" and adding his signature catch phrase, "That's what's up."
Even Posey, a light user of social media, had a shout out for the 49ers. "Congrats to the 49ers," Posey tweeted Monday. "Looking forward to the Super Bowl!!"
Perhaps no Giant is as invested as Crawford. The former quarterback from Foothill High in Pleasanton is a lifelong 49ers fan and one of several Giants hoping to travel to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. Crawford thinks the 49ers have the edge over the Baltimore Ravens and already has found a way for the team's new quarterback, a former prep baseball star, to follow in Smith's footsteps at AT&T Park.
"I'd like to see Kaepernick throw a bullpen session," Crawford said. "That's for sure."
Belt, the son of a former high school football coach in Texas, couldn't believe his eyes when he found Harbaugh sitting in the driver's seat of his parade car last Halloween. He promised to return the favor if the 49ers won the Super Bowl, and he still hopes to do so if the timing is right.
There's just one slight problem.
"I'm a huge Dallas Cowboys fan," Belt said, laughing. "(But) I can't help getting caught up with what they're doing. It seems like they're kind of like we were in the playoffs. They've got it all going for them."
Follow Alex Pavlovic on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic.