NFC notes: Defending champs Giants root for 49ers
SAN FRANCISCO - When Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith drove in the Giants' victory parade last fall, players on San Francisco's championship baseball team hoped they might be able to return the favor if the 49ers could win it all a few months later. Now, the Giants might just get that chance with the NFC champion Niners headed to New Orleans to face the Ravens in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. Titletown USA very well could be moving out West — and soon. "For sure!" Giants general manager Brian Sabean said Sunday night.San Francisco is trying to become the first market to win a World Series and Super Bowl in the same season since the Boston Red Sox accomplished it in 2004 and the New England Patriots followed suit in February 2005. What's more, even the NBA's Golden State Warriors are giving Bay Area fans a lot to cheer and hopes of a playoff season. The 49ers beat Atlanta and made it this far with a second-year quarterback boasting all of nine career starts to his name — 25-year-old Colin Kaepernick. The Giants captured their second championship in three years behind the play of an All-Star catcher who won the NL batting title and MVP after missing most of 2011 with a season-ending left leg and ankle injury — 25-year-old Buster Posey. The teams have taken a similar path, too. The Giants rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the NL division series to beat Cincinnati, then from a 3-1 hole in the NL championship series against the 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals before manager Bruce Bochy's bunch pulled off an improbable World Series sweep of the well-rested Detroit Tigers. On Sunday, the 49ers traveled to hostile Atlanta, erased a 17-0 deficit and held the Falcons scoreless over the second half for a 28-24 victory. "One thing about our team is that all year we continued to fight, and even through adversity, we continued to fight," linebacker Patrick Willis said. With second-year coach Harbaugh leading the way, San Francisco is headed to the Super Bowl for the first time since after the 1994 season, when it won its fifth championship during a remarkable run through the 1980s and '90s. 49ers favored to win by Vegas books Sports books in Las Vegas made San Francisco a favorite in the Super Bowl on Sunday night based on the team's solid record and popularity with sports fans. Oddsmakers gave the 49ers an early 41/2-point handicap and put the total score at 49 points for the Feb. 3 game. Jay Kornegay, race and sports book director at The LVH casino, said his book made the 49ers a 41/2-point favorite and quickly moved the line to 4 points as bettors gambled on the Ravens. "The 49ers have been a sexy team all year," he said. "The Ravens don't get a lot of respect from the public, but that bandwagon is getting a lot more supporters as we speak." Oddsmaker Benjamin Eckstein of America's Line said he made the 49ers a 41/2-point favorite to encourage action on both teams. "San Francisco is what we call a very public team because they've been very good over the past couple years, and people just like to bet on them," said Eckstein, who provides betting lines to more than 100 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. "The 49ers have done very well against the spread this year, so they've made people a lot of money."