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.

Solomon Thomas is excited to prove he's worthy of No. 3 overall pick

Solomon Thomas is excited to prove he's worthy of No. 3 overall pick

SANTA CLARA – Defensive tackle Solomon Thomas had a pedestrian rookie season after the 49ers chose him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

But that was nothing compared to Year 2, when he faced unimaginable tragedy with the suicide death of his older sister. Understandably, he was unproductive on the field as he struggled with his emotions and saw reduced playing time until a late-season surge.

Thomas’ name surfaced in trade rumors during the NFL draft.

Thomas said he is often guilty of over-thinking. But this time he did not give it much thought. He said he did not yearn for a fresh start elsewhere, because he wants to justify the faith general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan showed in him.

“In this business, whatever happens, happens. You don’t control it,” Thomas said on Tuesday. “But I love this organization. I love being here. And I want to finish what I started. I want to come here and want to show everyone why John and Kyle drafted me No. 3 and be who I am.”

After recording 41 tackles and three sacks in 14 games as a rookie, Thomas managed just 31 tackles and one sack in 16 games last season. The grief he felt off the field seemed to impact his performance at work.

“Last year I just wasn’t me,” Thomas said. “I’m not making excuses. I didn’t play well, and that’s on me. I should’ve played better. But I’m not making excuses for any of that. But what I’m saying that I wasn’t me last year. I put pressure on myself. But that’s over.”

Thomas said he sought therapy to better help him deal with the death of his sister, Ella. He continues to be an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness.

“That’s been a long process,” Thomas said. “It’s been hard to find. The first year was really hard for me, all the phases of anger, depression, sadness, guilt, grief, all that kind of stuff. So it’s hard for me to get healthy, and it took me a while. And once I was, I was a different person. I was light on my feet and could finally walk and move again.”

Shanahan said he sees an improvement in Thomas, who believes the team’s scheme adjustment under new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek fits his skills as an undersized defensive tackle. Thomas is expected to play defensive end in the 49ers' base defense, then move inside to rush the passer from defensive tackle.

“We all know what he went through and stuff, but you can see he’s got his aura back to him,” Shanahan said. “You can see it in his eyes. You can feel his energy a little bit better, and it definitely seems like he’s in a better place.

“We all know grieving can be as hard as it gets and takes people a long time, but you can see he’s doing better.”

After reports of the 49ers shopping Thomas in a trade, Lynch called Thomas into his office and denied the club was trying to get rid of him. Lynch talked to Thomas about how he should thrive in his new role.

“I can use my quickness and my explosion, being able to use that and just move, and having the green light,” Thomas said. “That’s what I need. I don’t need to be reading and sitting back. I need to be going and be able to press guards, get on the edge and crush tight ends. That’s how I play, and that’s the kind of scheme that can bring out my strengths.”

Thomas said he has always been a perfectionist. He admits that he often gets in his own head when he is dissatisfied with his own performance. He views this season as a fresh start without the change of scenary.

[RELATED: 49ers hopeful Kocurek can unleash Thomas]

“Everything in the past, is in the past,” he said. “I had probably my worst season ever in my life last year and I’m the most confident I’ve ever been in my career right now. That says a lot. I’m ready to move forward and show everyone who Solomon Thomas is and what I’m going to bring to the table.”

Why Dee Ford isn't worried about Nick Bosa's past social media usage

Why Dee Ford isn't worried about Nick Bosa's past social media usage

SANTA CLARA — 49ers first-round pick Nick Bosa was scrutinized heavily for his social media use, but veteran edge rusher Dee Ford isn't bothered by it one bit. 

"Yeah, he’s a great guy,” Ford said. “Social media is social media. I could care less. Honestly, who you are at work is important to me and he’s a great guy. I don’t even have a social media. I’m not even up to speed with the quotes and all that. I don’t care.

“Who he has presented to us is a great guy that’s ready to work and that’s all that matters to me.” 

Bosa pulled up short in practice with a hamstring injury and was unable to finish individual drills with his position group. Ford took it upon himself to speak to the rookie, offering encouragement. Ford knows the pressure of being a first-round pick and admires Bosa’s drive. 

“He works very hard,” Ford said. “He’s a really good guy. You hate to see that for a rookie because he’s really progressing and he’s going to be important for this defense. And that D-line room is really starting to mesh. He’ll get healthy. He’ll get back. He’ll be fine.” 

Ford even offered Bosa advice as far as the extra attention he’s received for what he has done off the field.   

“It’s important as a rookie to stay the course,” Ford said. “Don’t get down. You got a lot of stuff to go through as a rookie. I told him once ball gets here, it’s all about ball. All the extra stuff will be over.”  

Ford was also complementary of Bosa’s skill set, and compared Bosa to former Chiefs teammate Justin Houston. 

"[Bosa] has a unique ability to actually execute his moves,” Ford said. “He’s very fluent. He actually reminds me of Justin. He’s not going to jump off your screen as far as speed, but he’s fluent as an athlete and fast enough.

[RELATED: Lynch, Shanahan confident in Bosa's character]

“He’s very strong and he can execute his moves with his hand-eye coordination, which is what you like to see in the rush game. And in the run game he can make plays front side and back side.” 

It’s only Day Two of phase three but it appears that Bosa is fitting in with his teammates as well as could be.