Dwight Clark, the former receiver of the San Francisco 49ers who famously made “The Catch,” has died just over a year after opening up about his battle with ALS. He was 61.
Clark’s wife, Kelly, wrote a message on Clark’s Twitter account to share the news of his death.
“I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband,” she wrote. “He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most.”
I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband. He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight’s friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS. Kelly Clark.
— Dwight Clark (@DwightC87) June 4, 2018
Clark, a 10th-round pick (249th overall) out of Clemson in 1979, played for the 49ers from 1979-87. During his career, he caught 506 passes for 6,750 yards and 48 touchdowns. In the playoffs, he added 48 receptions, 726 yards and three touchdowns. None were more memorable than his 6-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone against the Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. Now known as “The Catch,” Clark and Joe Montana’s touchdown sent the 49ers to Super Bowl XVI, where they defeated the Bengals. In all, Clark won two Super Bowls with the 49ers.
His career, by the numbers:
Dwight Clark, who famously made "The Catch" in 1981 NFC Championship, died today. He was 61. pic.twitter.com/WagxJhUkOF
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 4, 2018
In May 2017, Clark revealed that he had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which is also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” After noticing symptoms in September 2015, he said that he was diagnosed with ALS months later.
“I’ve been asked if playing football caused this,” he wrote in May 2017. “I don’t know for sure. But I certainly suspect it did. And I encourage the NFLPA and the NFL to continue working together in their efforts to make the game of football safer, especially as it relates to head trauma.
“What I do know is I have a huge battle in front of me and I’m grateful for the strength and unconditional love from my wife Kelly. She has been my rock. She keeps thinking positive and convinces me each day that we can beat this, as does my daughter Casey and my son Mac. My brother Jeff, his wife Debra and their family also have been unwavering with their love and support.”
After Clark’s passing was announced, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo mourned Clark’s death in a statement, which you can read below (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times).
Statement from Eddie DeBartolo on the passing of Dwight Clark today. pic.twitter.com/stwUGXHNke
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) June 4, 2018
49ers legend Jerry Rice also shared his condolences.
Love you bro Dwight Clark!! RIP
— Jerry Rice (@JerryRice) June 4, 2018
As did Roger Craig.
Roger Craig: "I'm just heartbroken. Dwight was a great human being."
— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) June 4, 2018
NFL Network’s Mike Silver relayed a message from Joe and Jennifer Montana:
"…We are praying for Dwight and his family and all for your prayers also. We will miss you dearly!
Love Jennifer and Joe Montana"@JoeMontana @nflnetwork @NFL @49ers @DwightC87
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) June 5, 2018
In a statement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent his sympathies to the Clark family.
Statement from @nflcommish on the passing of 49ers legend Dwight Clark pic.twitter.com/Wuaw1ceKsC
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) June 5, 2018
Finally, the 49ers addressed what they called a “tremendous loss” in their own statement.