NBC set up shop in Santa Clara a couple days ahead of the 49ers opening Levi's® Stadium against the Chicago Bears on "Sunday Night Football." On Friday morning, the "Today" show aired a touching team-centric segment followed by a live shot inside of the 49ers Museum Presented by Sony. Niners Daily has the details.*
In 1975, Hang Nguyen and her family left Vietnam for the U.S. a day before the fall of Saigon. Nguyen was just a year old at the time.
Growing up as a refugee in America, Nguyen used football as a way to connect with the culture. Her favorite team? The San Francisco 49ers, of course.
Like most Faithful in that era, Nguyen's favorite 49ers moment came in 1982, when Joe Montana hit Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone to defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game.
"Once you solidify that memory and all those good feelings," she said, "I don't know if anything can replace that in your heart... I love football because it brings families together; it brings communities together."
Nguyen and her friends recreated the memorable play constantly.
"Sometimes the quarterback would throw it right at the receiver, and I'd be like, 'No, you have to throw it really high so I have to jump up to get it," she said.
Now a renowned artist in the Bay Area, Nguyen was commissioned by the 49ers to create a few original works for display inside of the team's new home.
The "Today" show shared her story and her passion for football with its viewers across the country as part of its "Together We Make Football" series. Following the piece on her life, Nguyen unveiled a painting of The Catch and was then surprised when her favorite player, Clark, walked in to greet her.
Clark gave her four tickets and a field pass to Sunday's game, but the gifts came with one requiremnt: that she wear his number 87 jersey.
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At halftime of the final regular season game at Candlestick Park, Clark marked the spot where the building's greatest moment happened. The spot of turf is on display in the 49ers Museum.