Former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver and Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Famer Dwight Clark passed away peacefully on Monday, June 4th at the age of 61 surrounded by friends and family.
Statement from the San Francisco 49ers Organization:
“The San Francisco 49ers family has suffered a tremendous loss today with the passing of Dwight Clark. We extend our condolences and prayers to Dwight’s wife, Kelly, his family, friends and fans, as we join together to mourn the death of one of the most beloved figures in 49ers history. For almost four decades, he served as a charismatic ambassador for our team and the Bay Area. Dwight’s personality and his sense of humor endeared him to everyone he came into contact with, even during his most trying times. The strength, perseverance and grace with which he battled ALS will long serve as an inspiration to so many. Dwight will always carry a special place in our hearts and his legacy will live on as we continue to battle this terrible disease.”
Clark was drafted by the 49ers in the 10th round (249th overall) of the 1979 NFL Draft. He spent his entire nine-year playing career with San Francisco (1979-87), appearing in 134 regular season games, the third-most among 49ers wide receivers, and registered 506 receptions for 6,750 yards (13.3 average) and 48 touchdowns. His numbers are among the best in franchise history as he still ranks third in receiving yards, fourth in receptions and sixth in touchdown receptions. He also appeared in nine postseason contests, adding 48 receptions for 726 yards and three touchdowns while helping to bring the first two Super Bowl championships to the 49ers organization. Following his playing days, Clark became a front office executive (1989-98) where he was a part of three more Super Bowl victories and later moved into a consultant role for the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame.
A two-time Super Bowl champion (Super Bowl XVI & Super Bowl XIX), Clark was named First-Team All-Pro in 1982 after leading the NFL with 60 receptions. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl in 1982 and 1983. In 1982, Clark was the recipient of the Len Eshmont Award, which is given annually to the 49ers player who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, a member of the original 1946 49ers team. The number 87 jersey worn by Clark was retired in 1988.
On January 10, 1982 the 49ers trailed the Dallas Cowboys 27-21 with 4:54 to play in the NFC Championship. Behind Joe Montana, Freddie Solomon, Lenvil Elliott and others, the 49ers moved 83 yards to the Dallas six. Then on a third down play, Montana rolled to his right and threw to the back of the end zone where Clark leaped high and hauled the ball in with his fingertips. The pass was completed and the play is now simply known as “The Catch,” arguably the single-most famous moment in Bay Area sports history and one of the greatest in NFL history. San Francisco went on to defeat the Cowboys, 28-27, which sent the 49ers to their first Super Bowl and an NFL dynasty was officially launched.
Born Dwight Edward Clark in Kinston, NC, Clark attended Clemson University where he began his career as a safety before moving to the offensive side of the ball. He finished his collegiate career with 33 receptions for 571 yards.