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Giants pulling for 49ers to join championship party

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Bay Area's winner's circle is large enough to accommodate two teams.

So said members of the Giants, the reigning World Series champions who want nothing more than to see the 49ers defeat Baltimore in Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII. That would mark the 14th time a city or metropolitan area has served as the home of title-winning teams in two of the four major professional sports in the same season. Never has it happened in San Francisco, though the Oakland A's won the 1989 World Series after the 49ers captured super Bowl XXIV earlier that year.

"People have said that these are the halcyon days of sports in San Francisco," Giants president and chief executive officer Larry Baer said.

"I'm rooting for the Niners," Giants right fielder Hunter Pence said. "I want the San Francisco fans to be happy."

Baer, a native San Franciscan, recognized parallels between the 49ers and Giants.

"The teams are really beloved in very similar ways," said Baer, who grew up watching 49ers quarterback John Brodie fling passes to Gene Washington at Kezar Stadium. "I think there's a lot of overlap [between] Giants and 49ers fans."

The athletes themselves have contributed to that overlap. 49ers quarterback Alex Smith consistently wore a Giants cap to postgame news conferences. After the NFL fined Smith earlier this year for not wearing a product that the league officially licensed, Giants manager Bruce Bochy and several players wore 49ers caps in the clubhouse to express solidarity and appreciation.

The parade last Oct. 31 that celebrated the Giants' World Series sweep included two celebrity drivers: Smith, who chauffeured right-hander Matt Cain through downtown, and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who transported first baseman Brandon Belt.

Since the 49ers had established themselves as a Super Bowl contender by then, observers wondered immediately if certain Giants might reciprocate if Harbaugh and his crew won it all.

"I'm hoping they'll win the Super Bowl this year and he'll let me drive his car," Belt said.

Baer hinted that could happen.

"I don't want to jump ahead and jinx anything, but I can see that as a possibility," Baer said.

The Giants likely would have plenty of volunteers to get behind the wheel. Among the possibilities are shortstop Brandon Crawford and pitching coach Dave Righetti, Bay Area natives who count themselves among the 49ers' faithful.

Crawford stuck with the Niners as a succession of "random" players, as he put it, pockmarked the rosters of unsuccessful teams after quarterback Jeff Garcia departed. Righetti doggedly supported Brodie ("He was my guy") and met Harbaugh, then a fledgling quarterback with the Chicago Bears, in the late 1980s. Righetti said that Harbaugh would visit Yankees camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and display his inquisitive side.

"He'd ask me about Billy Martin and [George] Steinbrenner," Righetti said. "I've always rooted for him. He revitalized everything."

San Francisco Giants