49ers

49ers legend Dwight Clark announces ALS diagnosis

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AP

49ers legend Dwight Clark announces ALS diagnosis

Dwight Clark, who authored the most iconic play in San Francisco 49ers history, announced on Sunday he has been diagnosed with ALS.

Clark turned 60 in January. He played nine NFL seasons, all with the 49ers, from 1979 to ’87.

According to the ALS Association, approximately 6,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with the disorder each year and an estimated 20,000 may be living with ALS in the U.S. at any given time.

He issued the following statement:

In September of 2015, I started feeling weakness in my left hand. I was mildly paying attention to it because since my playing days, I’ve constantly had pain in my neck. I was thinking it was related to some kind of nerve damage because it would just come and go.

After months of tests and treatment, I got some bad news. I was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

I have ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Those words are still very hard for me to say.

While I’m still trying to wrap my head around the challenge I will face with this disease over the coming years, the only thing I know is that I’m going to fight like hell and live every day to the fullest.

There is no test that will positively diagnose you with ALS. You have to eliminate the possibility of all other diseases and disorders and then wait to see what additional symptoms you develop. I visited six neurologists and three ALS specialists. I also was treated for a B12 deficiency, which sometimes can mirror the symptoms of this debilitating disease.

In addition to losing strength in my left hand – which makes opening a pack of sugar or buttoning my shirt impossible – I have now experienced weakness in my right hand, abs, lower back and right leg. I can’t run, play golf or walk any distances. Picking up anything over 30 pounds is a chore. The one piece of good news is that the disease seems to be progressing more slowly than in some patients.

I’ve been asked if playing football caused this. I don’t know for sure. But I certainly suspect it did. And I encourage the NFLPA and the NFL to continue working together in their efforts to make the game of football safer, especially as it relates to head trauma.

What I do know is I have a huge battle in front of me and I’m grateful for the strength and unconditional love from my wife Kelly. She has been my rock. She keeps thinking positive and convinces me each day that we can beat this, as does my daughter Casey and my son Mac. My brother Jeff, his wife Debra and their family also have been unwavering with their love and support. I get the same pep talk from the Boss, Eddie D. His support has been incredible. So rest assured, I know I’m not alone in this fight.

Every single one of my 49ers teammates that has contacted me has said whatever I need, anytime I need it, they will help. That’s just the kind of guys they are. They were so giving as players and now they are the same as friends.

I can’t thank my teammates and friends enough for their support. Mr. D always treated us like family and that family is still together. I also want to thank all the great 49ers fans. Your support over the last 35 years has allowed me to remain connected to you. Rarely does a day go by when I’m not asked about ‘the Catch,’ when we were able to get past the Cowboys and go on to win our first Super Bowl.

I’m not having a press conference or doing any interviews. That time will come. Right now, I’ve got work to do. I’ve got to devote all my energy preparing for this battle and I would hope you can respect my family’s privacy as I begin this challenge. My ultimate hope is that eventually I can assist in finding a cure for ALS, which disrupts the lives of so many and their loved ones.

Sincerely,
DWIGHT CLARK

Clark attended an autograph show in Chicago this weekend. He also traveled to watch his alma mater, Clemson, defeat Alabama in the national championship game in January.

Clark and quarterback Joe Montana teamed up for "The Catch" to propel the 49ers to their first Super Bowl. Clark made a leaping 6-yard touchdown reception for the winning points in a 28-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game at Candlestick Park on January 10, 1982. Two weeks later, Clark recovered the onside kick to seal the 49ers' 26-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI.

The 49ers retired his No. 87 in 1988, He finished his career with 506 catches for 6,750 yards and 48 touchdowns. He ranks fourth all-time in 49ers history in receptions and third in receiving yards. He was named to the first-team All-Pro teams in 1982 and '83.

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San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York issued the following statement below: 

2019 Senior Bowl: Cornerbacks have distinct look of 49ers, Seahawks fit

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USATSI

2019 Senior Bowl: Cornerbacks have distinct look of 49ers, Seahawks fit

Jim Nagy, whose job as executive director of the Senior Bowl is to piece together the lineup of invited participants, arranged for a group of familiar-looking cornerbacks.

Nagy worked for the Seattle Seahawks for five seasons as a Southeast region scout. The Seahawks’ prototype for cornerbacks is the same the 49ers have adopted under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme.

Richard Sherman is the prototype. The Seahawks and 49ers look for tall, physical corners to re-route receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupt timing in the passing game.

“A lot of people in the league probably look at this roster and say, ‘Man, Jim is looking for the same thing he did in Seattle.’ There are a bunch of big, long guys in this group,” Nagy said. “The league is going that way as a whole just because of the success that Seattle’s had.

“There are a slew of guys coming down here who are perfect fits for the Niners.”

The 49ers invested third-round picks the past two years in Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore. Promoting more competition and increasing depth is a priority this offseason.

Here’s a look at some of the top prospects for the 49ers’ scheme at the Senior Bowl:

Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kentucky, 6-3, 206
With his size and athleticism, Johnson fits the model of what teams that play the cover-3 system are coveting. However, he recorded just one interception in his two seasons at Kentucky.
Projected: Early rounds

Rock Ya-Sin, Temple, 6-2, 190
Played completely under the radar during his three seasons at Presbyterian College before a transfer to Temple for his final season. He is relatively new to the sport but he has the smarts and skill to rise up draft boards.
Projected: Mid rounds

Isaiah Johnson, Houston, 6-4, 203
He’s got the attributes with his height and 33-inch arms. Nagy said he expects him to run in the low-4.4s. If he can stick with wideouts during the one-on-ones, he will help himself tremendously.
Projected: Mid rounds

Mark Fields, Clemson, 5-11. 180
When the Senior Bowl was looking to add a cornerback this week, the 49ers were consulted. This is the guy they wanted to be added to the group.
Projected: Late rounds

North cornerbacks

Amani Oruwariye, Penn State, 6-1, 201
He has the size and movements to be one of the first cornerbacks off the board. He also has the ball skills, as he showed with seven interceptions over the past two seasons. He will be rested this week in man coverage.
Projected: Early rounds

Kris Boyd, Texas, 6-0, 195
He is smart and experienced. He has the toughness in run support, too. The big question is whether he has the top-flight speed to keep plays in front of him.
Projected: Early rounds

Richard Sherman has message for Antonio Brown in his bid to join 49ers

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USATSI

Richard Sherman has message for Antonio Brown in his bid to join 49ers

Richard Sherman knows what it's like to leave the only franchise he's ever known to join the 49ers.

So, what does he think about Antonio Brown's desire to play in San Francisco?

"Good luck to him," Sherman told TMZ on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

The All-Pro receiver wants out of Pittsburgh and to come to the 49ers "really badly," according to Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II has said the team won't release Brown but will explore all other options, including a trade. Rooney also said he expects discussions regarding Brown's future to heat up in mid-March when the new league year begins.

Sherman, who signed a three-year, $27.15 million contract with the 49ers last March, was asked about his time in the Bay Area.

"So far, so good," Sherman told TMZ.

Before Sherman could get away, he was asked if he had a message for Brown.

"Go wherever it makes him happy," Sherman said.