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.