49ers legend Dwight Clark announces ALS diagnosis


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.


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.


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

49ers camp report: Competitive practices lead to skirmish with Broncos

49ers camp report: Competitive practices lead to skirmish with Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The 49ers and Broncos entered their two practices with the mindset that both teams were expected to treat the other as being all part of one team.

The only heated segment of the two days occurred Saturday between the 49ers’ defense and the Broncos' offense.

“It was just two competitive teams going after it,” 49ers safety Tarvarius Moore said.

Denver wide receiver Brendan Langley and tight end Bug Howard were kicked off the field for throwing punches during a brief skirmish involving 49ers safety Marcell Harris.

“I was told none of our guys threw punches, so when I see the tape we’ll see if they were telling the truth,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ defense appeared particularly fired up for the two practices, as they set the tone in the first practice session with a dominating performance. The Broncos’ offense made it more of an equal matchup Saturday.

“It all starts with the D-line and the linebackers,” Moore said. “We feed off them on the back end, so when they’re revved up and playing good, and coming out ready to go, first play, we all feed on the defense. It’s a trickle-down effect.”

Gould for the win

Practice concluded with two end-of-game situations. The 49ers were down by one point. (Denver coach Vic Fangio called it 1-0, while Shanahan preferred 39-38.)

Jimmy Garoppolo hit Jordan Matthews on a pass play in traffic to set up Robbie Gould for a 55-yard field goal attempt. Fangio even called a timeout to try to ice Gould, whose brother, Chris, is the Broncos’ assistant special-teams coach.

Gould nailed the long field-goal attempt with plenty of room to spare to give the 49ers the “win.”

Offensive play of the day

Wide receiver Richie James had a good couple days in the practices against the Broncos. He supplied the big play of the day when Garoppolo found him on an option route for a 30-yard gain.

“I had a choice to keep it vertical or sit down on that route, and I saw the safety way too deep, so I pushed vertical at him, and I sat down and Jimmy threw it over the linebackers,” James said. “It was a dime.”

Defensive plays of the day

The 49ers went without any interceptions on the day, but Harris made a good play down the field when he ripped the ball loose from Howard on a Joe Flacco pass. Howard and Harris would later get in a scuffle, with Howard throwing a punch that got him kicked off the practice field.

Injury report

Running back Matt Breida returned to practice after leaving Friday’s drills after sustaining a shoulder injury during a one-on-one blitz pickup drill.

Guard Mike Person is listed as day-to-day with a left foot strain. Person sustained the injury during practice on Friday, and an X-ray came back negative. He is not expected to play Monday night.

Safety Antone Exum is day-to-day with a minor knee injury sustained in practice Friday.

Tight end George Kittle (calf) did not practice on either of the two days working with the Broncos. Shanahan said Kittle would be available to play if this were the regular season.

Running back Raheem Mostert was cleared off concussion protocol and returned to practice on Saturday.

Other 49ers to sit out practice were: Tight end Levine Toilolo (shoulder), guard Joshua Garnett (finger), wide receiver Trent Taylor (foot), defensive linemen Nick Bosa (ankle), Dee Ford (knee), Ronald Blair (groin), Jullian Taylor (back), D.J. Jones (knee), linebacker Elijah Lee (thumb), cornerbacks Jason Verrett (ankle) and K’Waun Williams (knee) and free safety Jimmie Ward (collarbone).

[RELATED: Why Lynch is confident Jimmy G will have successful return]

This ‘n’ that

-- Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, held a press conference during practice. Earlier this summer, Fangio invited Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, back to the Broncos facility for the first time since he last coached there in 2008 ...

-- The Broncos' defensive line did a number on the 49ers during one-on-one pass-rush drills. One of the few wins came from left tackle Joe Staley against former 49ers teammate Dekoda Watson after Watson got the better of Staley on the first snap ...

-- Cornerback D.J. Reed broke up a Flacco pass deep down the right sideline intended for Broncos receiver Kelvin McKnight ...

-- The 49ers generated a takeaway when linebacker Fred Warner punched the ball loose from a Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick after a pass completion. Ahkello Witherspoon made the recovery ...

-- Flacco hit Courtland Sutton on a deep ball against Richard Sherman, who mistimed his leap ...

--With center Weston Richberg remaining on PUP and Person out of action, Ben Garland handled the center chores with Daniel Brunskill taking over at right guard.

Next up

Training camp has officially come to an end with Saturday being the final practice that will be open to the media until next year. The 49ers and Broncos will play Monday night in an exhibition game, which will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Why 49ers' John Lynch is confident in Jimmy Garoppolo's successful return

Why 49ers' John Lynch is confident in Jimmy Garoppolo's successful return

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — General manager John Lynch knows how important turning the corner in his third season as general manager of the 49ers is, and how much of that turnaround lies in the hands of his quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

“It’s important for us all,” Lynch said. “We’ve got high aspirations for this team and he’s obviously a big part of that. We’ve got a lot of belief that he’s going to answer the bell and we feel great about that position group in general.”

Garoppolo only had started 10 games over five seasons in the NFL before tearing his ACL in Week 3 against the Chiefs last year. Only eight of those starts were in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system. But Lynch has confidence that his quarterback has a chance to be successful because of his overall experience and the successful recovery of his left knee.

“I think what’s important, all the time, is you look at the totality of a camp and I think he’s had a really good camp, I really do,” Lynch said. “I think the best thing for all of us is that is, I get hesitant and reluctant to say it, but is his recovery from his knee has been flawless.”

Injuries have been a challenge for the 49ers over that past two seasons with 18 players ending up on injured reserve in 2018 and 21 players on the list the year prior. Running back Jerick McKinnon, who also suffered an ACL injury last season, had a minor set back during training camp. He should be ready for the early part of the season, but Lynch noted the 49ers have been very fortunate that Garoppolo has been issue free, thus far.

“I think we’re all learning the hard way that, par for the course, at some point, during a year-long rehab, you’re going to have some setbacks,” Lynch said. “He just hasn’t had those and that’s allowed him to focus on what he needs to do and that’s play.

“So that’s been tremendous and that’s been the biggest blessing and he deserves a lot of credit as does our medical staff for the way that’s gone. On the field we see progress each day and a better mastery of our system. We’re still seeing room for improvement but I think he’s been having a fine camp.”

Lynch also had a positive take on the health of defensive line additions Dee Ford and Nick Bosa. Ford has been out with tendonitis in his knee, while Bosa sprained his ankle. While Lynch would not confirm that they would be ready to play in Tampa in Week 1, he was not concerned about the time table for their return.

“As for Week 1, I don’t know, but I think we’re going to have them for the majority of the year and we just got to keep them out there,” Lynch said. “But those guys are obviously key parts of who we are and what we’re doing. It will be nice when we get them back.”

[RELATED: Broncos coach Fangio looks back fondly on four-year run with 49ers]

Other injury notes: C Weston Richburg (knee) is doing more football oriented things but has not been cleared, hopefully, he will be ready by Week 1 or early in the season. OL Mike Person (foot strain) is day-to-day. G Joshua Garnett (finger) will attempt to play with a cast that will he will have put on next week. CB Jason Verrett (ankle) is hopeful to be ready for Week 1. S Jimmie Ward (collar bone) has regular check-ups on how he is healing. They likely will have him participating in practice soon, but they will be careful with him.