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: 

Imagining what 49ers' Levi's Stadium at Candlestick Point would look like

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NBC Sports Bay Area

Imagining what 49ers' Levi's Stadium at Candlestick Point would look like

The Giants have a beautiful ballpark on the water in San Francisco.

What if the 49ers still had that?

In light of a recent Twitter thread re-imagining the look of baseball stadiums, including the Giants' Oracle Park, we here at NBC Sports Bay Area thought it would be interesting to daydream about what it would look like if the 49ers still played their home games at Candlestick Point, where the team played from 1971 through 2014.

But instead of playing their games at the outdated Candlestick Park, what if Levi's Stadium had been built on the same plot of land?

Here's what we think it would look like:

Obviously, this will never happen. The 49ers opened up Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara in 2015 and they aren't going anywhere.

Nonetheless, it's still fun to wonder what could have been if the team still played on the plot of land that holds so many memories.

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George Kittle should not show up without new contract, says Donte Whitner

George Kittle should not show up without new contract, says Donte Whitner

The 49ers’ offseason has shifted from free agency to draft preparation.

But there’s another element of the offseason that should not be overlooked when it is time – whenever that might be – for NFL teams to resume their on-field work.

Tight end George Kittle is entering the final year of his original contract. And for the first time this offseason, the 49ers are allowed to give him a contract extension.

NBC Sports Bay Area analysist Donte Whitner believes Kittle should not report back to the club without a new contract.

“I think that he should demand top dollar and he shouldn’t take another snap or step on the football field without getting paid,” Whitner said on 49ers Central.

Kittle’s contract rose to $2.133 million for the 2020 season due to the NFL’s proven performance escalator. But he is still scheduled to be the 25th highest-paid player on the team.

“He’s going to demand a lot of money on the market – a lot of guaranteed money – and rightfully so,” Whitner said. “He’s a guy not only catches the football and gets into the end zone, but he provides the energy and the toughness that it takes to win.”

Kittle was a fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft. Through three seasons, Kittle has 2,945 yards receiving in the regular season – the most for any tight end in NFL history over the first three seasons of a career.

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Earlier this offseason, the Cleveland Browns made Austin Hooper the highest-paid tight end on a multi-year contract with a four-year, $42 million contract. Kittle’s next contract is expected to far-exceed Hooper’s deal.

But Kittle is taking a risk if he plays another down – or takes part in another practice – without first cashing in, NBC Sports Bay Area analysis Ian Williams agrees.

“He doesn’t come off to me as that type of player, but we’ve all seen players who have held out in previous years,” Williams said. “It happens. It’s a business decision and guys have to be smart about their bodies and know that, ‘If I do stuff on this practice field or I do stuff on this game field and I get injured and I don’t have anything to secure my future, that’s on me.’”

[RELATEDGeorge Kittle's 49ers rise didn't shock fellow Iowa star Merton Hanks]

The 49ers are likely saving some of their cap room for a new deal for Kittle this offseason. The 49ers are $15.8 million under the salary cap, according to the NFLPA.

The 49ers’ rookie pool is set at $8.2 million, but only the top 51 players count against the cap at this time of year. Therefore, the draft picks are set lower the 49ers’ current cap number by approximately $3.4 million.

The 49ers have enough cap space to strike a new deal with Kittle this offseason. Now, they just have to find a figure that works for both sides.