By Chris Willis, NFL Films
|Dwight Clark making "The Catch" in the 1981 NFC Championship Game|
(Courtesy: Sports Illustrated, current news story)
So hearing the news yesterday that Dwight Clark, one of my heroes growing up, had passsed away from ALS at the young age of 61, my heart broke.
Dwight Clark (1957-2018) was drafted in the 10th round out of Clemson in 1979. New 49ers head coach Bill Walsh saw him at Clemson while he scouted Tigers quarterback Steve Fuller in a pre-draft workout. Instead of taking Fuller he took Joe Montana in the 3rd round of out Notre Dame and Montana-to-Clark became the West Coast offense key receiving threat for the 49ers.
Clark played 9 seasons with the 49ers (1979-1987) and won 2 Super Bowls (XVI, XIX). He finished with 506 catches for 6,750 yards and 48 touchdowns.
When NFL Films started to produce the series "America's Game" back in 2005 Dwight Clark was one of the first people we interviewed. His interview was featured in the 1981 49ers show. Watching that show again showed Clark as such a down-to-earth person who genuinely was just happy to be playing in the NFL and happy to be in the right place, at the right time.
|America's Game: 1981 San Francisco 49ers|
(Courtesy: NFL Films)
"The Catch" will live on for 49ers and NFL fans everywhere. As for me, I'm happy that he made "The Catch," giving me one of the most special moments of my life as a football fan. He's one of the main reasons I'm a die-hard Faithful fan for nearly forty years.
Thank you, Dwight Clark!! RIP.