Dwight Clark on Tuesday held his final scheduled lunch at a beachfront restaurant overlooking Monterey Bay with friends, former teammates and co-workers.
Clark, 61, who is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, will soon be moving from the California coast to Montana.
“You get more for your money in Montana,” Clark said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “I’m going to need a big house because I’m going to need a couple of nurses after I get real bad.”
Clark and his wife, Kelly, will live a short distance from where former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo makes his home for about half of the year in Big Sky Country.
“Over the years of going to Eddie’s Fourth of July party, Kelly and I both fell in love with Montana,” Clark said. “I wasn’t thinking about moving because I grew up a beach guy. I’m plenty happy here. I have tons of friends here.
“But I don’t know if this is the right way to think about this, but when I get totally to where I can’t talk or walk or do anything, I don’t know what my desire will be to see people. I can’t decide. If I decide I want to see people, then I’ll fly them in.”
Plenty of people have flown in to see Clark over the past several months in Capitola. The 49ers covered the travel costs for some of Tuesday’s attendees of the lunch, Clark said.
Former teammates Lawrence Pillars, Charles Haley, Ricky Churchman, Wendell Tyler, Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright, Keena Turner, Guy McIntyre and Dwaine Board attended Tuesday’s get-together, along with former 49ers coaches and staff members Paul Hackett, Lindsy McLean, Jerry Attaway, Ted Walsh, Lal Heneghan, Bronco Hinek and Kirk Reynolds, who organized the lunches.
On the podcast, Clark spoke in depth about living with the ALS -- a progressive neurodegenerative disease with no known cure.
He went to Japan last year to bring back a three-month supply of the drug Radicava, which had not yet become available in the United States. In clinical trials, some people who took the drug experienced slowing of the decline normally associated with the disease.
“There’s nothing stopping it or reversing it,” Clark said. “It’s just slowing it down, which I guess is the best I can hope for. Out of all the frickin’ diseases in the world, how do I get this one? As an athlete, at least give me something I can fight. I’m fighting with the few little weapons I have.”
Clark played his entire nine-year NFL career with the 49ers. He and Joe Montana teamed up for “The Catch.” Clark’s leaping 6-yard touchdown pass lifted the 49ers to a victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game in January 1982 en route to the club’s first Super Bowl title.
Now, Clark said he barely has function of those same hands that were responsible for one of the most memorable plays in NFL history.
“It’s very frustrating as it progresses,” Clark said. “I used to pick up a cup and take a drink. Now, it’s two hands and make sure my fingers are underneath it, so I don’t spill it. I drop 50 things a day.”
Clark said the most difficult part is considering his own mortality and what he would miss. He has three grandchildren, a niece, a nephew and countless friends with young children, too.
“It’s tough thinking that I’m going to miss out on that,” Clark said. “What I’m trying to do is, I’m 61 and I’m just trying to make it to 62. And when I get there, I’ll just try to make it to 63."
Clark added, “The way I’m living now kind of sucks, but I’ll take it over being dead.”