SANTA CLARA -- When quarterback Alex Smith showed up at the 49ers' practice facility the day after last season ended, he figured he had played his final game with the 49ers.The San Diego native, as he often had in the past, wore a San Diego Padres hat.Smith re-signed with the 49ers and has put together easily his best opening four-game stretch of his career under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Things are going well for Smith and the 3-1 49ers.
And on the 49ers' recently completed 10-day road trip, Smith was rarely seen without his San Francisco Giants hat."It's just a little more Bay Area love," Smith said. "No, obviously, I've always loved it here. I've always rocked the Padres hat, but I've always owned both (hats)."My theory, which I expressed to Smith, is that he wants to be recognized as being fully committed to the Bay Area -- and not just the guy from Southern California who just happens to play for the 49ers."I'd be lying if I say I didn't feel . . . it's seven years I've lived here in the Bay Area now," Smith said. "For sure I feel, especially in my adult life, way more connected to the Bay Area than I do San Diego. I haven't lived in San Diego since I was 17 years old."Smith said he grew up watching Bruce Bochy, now the Giants manager, with the Padres. He said it was difficult not to fall for the Giants because their World Series run of last season and they way the team is built."The one thing I've always appreciated are loyal fans, so I'm not going to stop rooting for the Padres," Smith said. "But I'm a Giants fan, too."I still wear the Padres hat, but the Giants hat got to make the road trip for 10 days."Obviously, the Giants and Padres are both in the National League West, so having two "favorite teams" is a conflict. But even with both teams finished for the season, Smith said he was going to straddle the fence -- at least publicly."No, I'm staying diplomatic," he said.