Ronnie Lott

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

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AP

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

SANTA CLARA – In less than a year since a group of former 49ers players came together to form the Golden Heart Fund, the non-profit organization has provided valuable assistance.

“We’ve made some progress with the idea of knowing there are some people in need, so we’ve been able to make some grants to some of the ex-Niners,” Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We’ve been able to respond. This is more about us being able to give guys the ability to know they can have, as (former 49ers linebacker and Golden Heart Fund board member) Ron Ferrari says, a hand up not a hand out.”

The organization is in the midst of a fund-raising drive this week in conjunction with "Dwight Clark Day" on Sunday. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and Clark will be the guest of honor. More than 35 players from the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team are expected to be in attendance.

Clark played nine seasons for the 49ers and provided the most memorable play in franchise history with “The Catch” against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, which propelled the organization to its first Super Bowl. Clark served as a front-office executive for a decade after his playing days.

In March, Clark announced he was diagnosed with ALS. He is scheduled to attend Sunday’s game and make some remarks at halftime from a suite.

“It’s unbelievable we are having an opportunity to celebrate an incredible day for this gentleman,” Lott said. “We can all say there was a moment in time in which we stood on his shoulders after making that catch. Now, we get a chance to lift him up a little bit and let him know how much we all care.”

Lott said Clark has been a champion of the Golden Heart Fund from its inception. Past and current 49ers ownership has supported the organization, which provides financial support for former 49ers players in times of physical, emotional and financial need.

“It’s the spirit of Dwight,” Lott said. “It’s more about the funds going in through his efforts. He’s paying it forward.”

--The public can made a direct contribution to the fund at GoldenHeartFund.org.

--Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at Sunday’s game will benefit the Golden Heart Fund.

--Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sales of Dwight Clark apparel purchased on game day will go to the fund.

--Half of all proceeds from admission to the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium throughout the year will go to the charity.

-- On Sunday, Nov. 19, Levi’s Stadium and race grand marshal Roger Craig will host the first Golden Heart 4.9K Run with all proceeds from the event going to the Golden Heart Fund. Runners can register GoldenHeartRun.com.

On the walls of John Lynch's office

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AP

On the walls of John Lynch's office

SANTA CLARA -- John Lynch’s office is on the second floor of the 49ers’ team offices with glass doors that lead to large balcony that overlooks the practice fields.

Lynch oversees the entire 49ers football operation from this vantage point.

On Wednesday, he spoke on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” about the significance of the items he has placed on the walls and shelves of his office.

From his desk, looking straight across to the room, is a photo of his four children, taken at Levi’s Stadium on the family’s first trip to Santa Clara after he was named general manager.

The family remained in San Diego during a busy offseason that included finalizing a 53-man roster that includes 31 players acquired since he took charge of the team's player personnel.

“You always want to be with your family,” Lynch said. “There’s a lot to be done, so when they’re not here, I just work.”

His son, Jake, was going to transfer to the Bay Area for his senior year of high school. Instead, he will remain at Cathedral Catholic, where he plays linebacker on a team that went 15-0 last season and won the Division I-AA California state championship.

“His guys had an intervention with him down there,” Lynch said. “One guy took him out, and the next thing you know, the whole team was there, saying, ‘You can’t leave.’ He decided to stay down for the first semester.”

It should be noted that Lynch’s 9-year-old daughter, Leah, warmed quickly to the idea of her father working for the 49ers. She is wearing a red 49ers T-shirt in the picture. She was the biggest critic of her father’s move to join a team that went 2-14 last season.

Said Lynch, “I think her thing was, ‘How’s this a good thing, Dad? The 49ers are horrible.’ With kids, you’re going to get the real deal.”

On a shelf behind Lynch’s desk is a football he acquired at an auction during Winter Fest, a fundraiser for the 49ers Foundation. Dwight Clark personally drew the X’s and O’s of “sprint right option” – the play on which he made “The Catch.”

“Dwight Clark’s fight with ALS is close to everyone because of what Dwight stands for, but close to me because I lost my mother in law a couple of years ago to ALS, so we’ve been involved in that fight,” Lynch said.

“First off, it’s really cool. It’s a diagram of 'The Catch' and signed by Dwight on a ball. But (the proceeds) also went to Dwight’s cause and his fight.”

Next to the football is a photo of Lynch and Ronnie Lott, then with the New York Jets, after a preseason game in 1995. Lynch was entering his second NFL season and his first as a starter. Lynch still remembers what Lott told him that night.

“I’d just become a starter,” Lynch said. “(Lott) said, ‘I watched some of your film from the end of last year. … You’re going to play at a high level in this league. You’re going to be a star.’ Hearing that from Ronnie Lott gave me everything I needed to be excited.”

Another item of particular significance is a small bronze plaque that his father gave him. It reads: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.”

CEO Jed York hired coach Kyle Shanahan and Lynch as a team, and awarded them with six-year contracts to figure things out and work together over the long term. The 49ers have been torn apart in recent years by the inability of general manager Trent Baalke and the head coaches to work together. Lynch said he believes the relationship with Shanahan will remain secure in good times and bad. 

“I’ve got no doubt that it will just because the foundation is so strong,” Lynch said. “And the other thing we genuinely like being around each other. I kind of dig what I learn from him about football. I think he feels the same way. We’ve got similar philosophies on success and just how you deal with things.

“At the same time, we aren’t exactly identical and we challenge each other. And we’re not afraid to challenge each other. That’s a good thing. It’s worked really well. We haven’t played a game, yet, though. We understand that. We’re looking very much forward to kicking it off against Carolina this Sunday, though.”

After Adelson pulls money for Raiders, Lott Group issues statement

After Adelson pulls money for Raiders, Lott Group issues statement

The Raiders mission for relocating to Las Vegas got complicated on Monday, when casino magnate Sheldon Adelson pulled his $650 million investment in a $1.9 billion stadium proposal.

That gave former 49ers and Raiders safety Ronnie Lott an opportunity to promote his plan to build a football stadium to keep the Raiders in Oakland.

That proposal, led by Fortress Investments, was not well received by the NFL. The Raiders have simply ignored it to this point.

[RATTO: Oakland Raiders? Las Vegas Raiders? Other? All things are chaos]

Lott said in a statement that his group would happily pair with the Raiders on an Oakland stadium plan.

“We stand ready to work with the team and NFL to keep the Raiders here at home,” the Lott Group said in a statement. “We have the land available at the existing Coliseum site following the actions of the City of Oakland and Alameda County last December. We have a strong financing partner in Fortress Investment Group. We have an additional $100 million due to the NFL incentive to keep the Raiders in Oakland. And of course, we have the best fans in the world right here in the heart of Raider Nation. Add to all that a diverse and fast growing community, a top 10 television market, and more Fortune 500 companies than any region in the western United States. Bottom line, if the Raiders want to stay in Oakland, we are more than ready to be a partner in making that happen.”

The Lott Group entered into a negotiating agreement this fall with Oakland and Alameda County to create a stadium proposal designed to keep the Raiders in the East Bay.