SANTA CLARA -- The possibilities are endless on ways the 49ers can pay tribute to Dwight Clark, who died Monday from ALS at the age of 61.
General manager John Lynch said the team is working with the NFL on fitting ways to honor the legendary figure. The possibilities, which would require league approval, could include a helmet decal and a marker in the end zone at Levi’s Stadium to approximate where Clark landed to complete “The Catch.”
A statue of Clark at the zenith of his iconic leap is already displayed in the 49ers Hall of Fame at Levi’s Stadium. There could be a memorial to Clark outside the stadium, too.
Many coaches and team staff members on Tuesday wore “87” jerseys in memory of Clark, whose number was retired the year after his 1987 retirement.
“We had a couple people talk about him in the team meeting,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “He seemed like a great guy. I never got to meet him, unfortunately, but he just seemed like a great guy, loved to have fun. I heard he had the best hair in the Bay Area. He’ll be missed.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan asked Keena Turner to share some thoughts on Clark with the current 49ers players. Turner was a teammate of Clark and one of his closest friends. Turner remains as a member of the 49ers organization as special advisor to the general manager.
“To hear the type of teammate he was, the type of friend he was to people like Keena and the rest of that team, that’s what we’re trying to build here,” Shanahan said. “That’s why they had a great culture then. It started out with great people, starting with Dwight. And that’s what we’re trying to emulate. And got a lot of respect for that guy, and he’s going to be greatly missed.”
General manager John Lynch attended one of Clark’s lunches in Capitola. He also met privately with Clark shortly after he was hired for his current role with the organization. Clark, who served as general manager in the late -1990s, told him to trust his instincts and have fun.
There was a message Turner delivered to the players that was certain to resonate with the most unheralded of the 90 players on the 49res' offseason roster. Clark was a 10th-round draft pick who, by chance, caught the eye of then-coach Bill Walsh during a pre-draft workout. Clark was given an opportunity, worked hard, made the team, then produced the biggest play in franchise history.
“Obviously, there's the play, but it’s much deeper than that,” Lynch said. “It’s what he stood for, and he always prepared for excellence. So that play wasn’t just an accident, it was the product of his constant preparation and the standard he set for himself and for his teammates and just the fact, he just loved every day.”
Shanahan was around the 49ers as a middle-schooler when his father, Mike, was offensive coordinator. He said even as a young kid, he hung around a lot with Clark and Vinny Cerrato, two members of the personnel department.
“I think Keena said it best: ‘It’s not about how you die, it’s about how you lived.’ And I think anyone who knows him and has been around him, he lived a great life,” Shanahan said. “He left a huge imprint, whether you go at 61 or 90 or 30, whenever it is, he did it right. We’re all thankful for him.”