49ers

49ers to honor Dwight Clark with helmet decal, statue outside Levi's Stadium

49ers to honor Dwight Clark with helmet decal, statue outside Levi's Stadium

SANTA CLARA – Dwight Clark helped launch the 49ers’ dynasty of the 1980s when he leaped high into the air to come down with “The Catch.”

The 49ers will permanently pay tribute to Clark at the apex of his finger-tip grab with a statue outside the gates of Levi’s Stadium, the club announced during a private event Tuesday night.

The event featured a preview of the documentary, “Letters to 87,” which will air commercial-free on Tuesday, Aug. 21, on NBC Sports Bay Area at 8 p.m. (following Giants Postgame Live). The documentary highlights Clark’s bond with his fans, as signified by an outpouring of heartfelt letters he received after he was diagnosed with ALS.

Team president Al Guido announced the different ways the 49ers will honor Clark, who passed away on June 4 after a two-year battle with the disease. The club announced it plans to honor Clark on the date 8/7 every year. Clark, of course, wore the No. 87.

“It’s what we’re considering now Dwight Clark Day,” Guido said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

The 49ers on Sunday, Oct. 21, will unveil statues depicting Clark’s leap and Joe Montana’s pass on the play that propelled the 49ers to their first Super Bowl title. The 49ers’ nationally televised night game against the Los Angeles Rams will serve as the backdrop for a number of Clark tributes.

Clark’s statue will feature him suspended in mid-air with his hands outstretched 11 feet above the ground. Montana’s arms are raised to signify a touchdown. The statues are 23 yards apart – the same distance the ball traveled from Montana to Clark, who made "The Catch" in the back of the end zone in the NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 10, 1982. The statues weigh 350 pounds apiece.

All 49ers players will wear “87” helmet decals throughout the season. The same logo, which includes a silhouette of Clark’s signature leap, will be featured on the field bunting behind the north end zone.

“Almost four decades ago, Dwight Clark’s miraculous catch launched the San Francisco 49ers into an era of excellence,” 49ers CEO Jed York said. “Since that time, he has served as an inspirational figure to citizens of the Bay Area and beyond. Dwight has meant so much to so many and it is only fitting that our organization continues to carry on his wonderful legacy.

“The 2018 season provides us a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the life of a very special man, while also raising awareness for the Golden Heart Fund, which was so dear to his heart. Dwight lived his life with great compassion for others, and we want to honor that legacy by raising funds to support his 49ers brothers.”

The 49ers also received permission from the NFL to mark the location of Clark’s catch in the north end zone with an “87” painted into the end zone for the Oct. 21 game against the Rams.

The game against the Rams will serve as the 49ers’ annual Alumni Game, with funds being raised throughout the weekend for the Golden Heart Fund. The fund was established in 2016 to support 49ers alumni in need of financial, medical, psychological or emotional support. The Golden Heart Fund was Clark's charity of choice.

Jerry Rice took part in the event on Tuesday night, as he modeled a coyote fur coat Clark famously wore at the 49ers’ first Super Bowl parade in San Francisco, following the 1981 season. Clark’s brother, Jeff, donated the coat for display at the 49ers Museum.

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted Friday that the league was wrong for "not listening to NFL players earlier" and that they "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," but his 81-second video didn't mention former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick first sat, then kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games in the 2016 season to protest police brutality and institutional racism. The QB's protest has recently received renewed attention, as demonstrations against the same issues spring up around the globe following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, in Minneapolis police custody last Monday.

"We, the [NFL], believe black lives matter," Goodell said Friday. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no [NFL] and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.

"We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and move forward for a better, more united NFL family."

The commissioner's comments came shortly after the league shared a video of players asking for the NFL to "listen" and admit they were "wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting." Multiple players, including star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, first shared the video Thursday.

"We will not be silenced," the players said. "We assert our right to peacefully protest."

Protests have taken place nationwide in each of the 10 nights following Floyd's death prior to this story's publication. Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe as Derek Chauvin, a since-fired officer who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The 46-year-old's death occurred within months of Breonna Taylor, 26, and Ahmaud Arbery, 25, dying, all as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately affect African Americans. Louisville police fatally shot Taylor in her home while reportedly performing a "no-knock" warrant, and two white men allegedly shot and murdered Arbery as he jogged around his Georgia neighborhood.

Demonstrators have taken the streets to protest the same issues Kaepernick highlighted, nearly four years after he first began protesting. Kaepernick, who agreed to kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner" after consulting with former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, faced criticism for disrespecting the American flag and the country's veterans. Goodell said he didn't "necessarily agree with what [Kaepernick was] doing" in his first public comments after Kaepernick's protest.

“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” Goodell told The Associated Press on Sept. 7, 2016. “I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”

Goodell said in 2017 players had a "responsibility" of demonstrating "at the right time and in the right way." The NFL owners approved a national-anthem policy in May 2018 that would've required players to stand on the sideline as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, but the league and the NFL Players Association announced in July there would be no new policy.

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan wants NFL to fix coaching diversity issue]

Kaepernick argued his protest cost him his career in a collusion lawsuit he settled with the league last February. The quarterback opted out of his contract ahead of the 2017 season, when the 49ers told him he'd otherwise be released, and has not been signed since. The NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons' facility last November, but Kaepernick pulled out of the workout after the league barred media access and his lawyers deemed a liability waiver "unusual."

"I've been ready for three years, and I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick told reporters after moving the workout to a high school outside of Atlanta. "We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody -- we have nothing to hide. So we're waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people."

Goodell said in December that the NFL had "moved on" from Kaepernick after he "chose not to take" the opportunity the NFL gave him by moving the workout.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

George Kittle has never kept his love for run-blocking a secret. Any opportunity to drive a defender into the turf is embraced by the 49ers tight end the same way kids greet the arrival of Christmas morning.

During a recent appearance on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast with fellow NFL players Will Compton and Taylor Lewan, Kittle revealed two blocking assignments he doesn’t exactly live for.

“Khalil Mack’s tough,” Kittle said. “He’s pretty good. (Jadeveon) Clowney is pretty good too.”

Kittle and Mack faced off late in the 2018 season, during a low-scoring dogfight at Levi’s Stadium between the 49ers and Chicago Bears. Mack got three hits in on quarterback Nick Mullens, but didn’t end up with a sack among his five tackles.

[RELATED: Ranking top 49ers plays in franchise's storied history: No. 5-1]

Clowney was a difficult assignment for the Niners in both matchups last season, although Kittle was inactive for the Seattle Seahawks’ win on "Monday Night Football" in Week 10.

The current free agent had six tackles and five QB hits over those two games against San Francisco, not to mention scoring one of his two touchdowns on the season after scooping up a fumble.

Mack and Kittle could face off when the 49ers and Bears meet during the 2020 preseason on Aug. 29, but it remains to be seen where Clowney will wind up signing in free agency. 

Some have even postulated he could be a fit for the 49ers, if no team is willing to meet a reportedly exorbitant asking price.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]