SAN FRANCISCO, CA- Alex Smith proved he's much better at throwing a football under pressure for the San Francisco 49ers than a baseball off a mound.
Smith got rewarded with the ceremonial first-pitch honor for his loyalty to the Giants and responded with a one-hop pitch in the dirt.
"I'm disgusted with myself," he said after the pitch. "Stick to throwing a football. It's so great to be out here. A huge honor, definitely. I'm humbled by it."
Smith was decked out in a Matt Cain Giants jersey and hat to throw out the first pitch before Game 1 of San Francisco's division series against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.
Smith said he hadn't thrown off a mound since he was about 10 years old and practiced a little bit this week but was saving his arm for his day job of quarterback of the 49ers. He got some tips from Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who visited Niners practice earlier this week, but his pitch from just in front of the rubber to Sergio Romo still didn't make it there on the fly.
"He was trying to give me help with my grip, how I should hold the ball," Smith said. "He's definitely not to blame. I should have listened."
The honor comes a few weeks after Smith revealed that the NFL had fined him $15,000 last season for wearing a Giants hat to a postgame news conference - a penalty that was later revoked.
Shortly after that news came out, Giants manager Bruce Bochy wore a 49ers hat for his pregame media briefing and Giants infielder Ryan Theriot bought 49ers hats for all of his teammates.
"We certainly appreciate his support wearing a Giants hat," Bochy said. "That's why we wanted to reciprocate and wear a 49ers had and have some fun with it, and have him throw out the first pitch. This club has a lot of 49ers fans, especially when they're playing that day and it's going to be good to have him out there. We may take a look at him, too. He has a good arm."
Coach Jim Harbaugh gave Smith permission to leave the team hotel the night before a home game against the Buffalo Bills for the honor. He got a police escort to the stadium and went right back after the pregame ceremony.