SANTA CLARA – The highlight for the 49ers on Sunday occurred four hours before kickoff.
Statues of Dwight Clark and Joe Montana were unveiled in front of a group of approximately 200 invited guests that included more than 70 former 49ers players outside Gate A at Levi’s Stadium.
Clark is captured at the apex of his memorable leap, ball resting at his fingertips. Twenty-three yards away, Montana’s arms are raised, signaling touchdown.
The iconic play catapulted the 49ers past the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 10, 1982, and onto the organization’s first Super Bowl title.
Next year is the NFL’s 100th anniversary, and the league has asked teams to vote on the best moments in franchise history, 49ers CEO Jed York said.
“For us, there is absolutely no question about the best moment in the history of the San Francisco 49ers, the best play,” York said. “The only argument is, was it the best play in the history of the NFL?”
“The Catch” was the springboard for the 49ers’ dynasty of the 1980s and the organization’s five Super Bowl titles. Montana recognized his teammates and gave special mention to the team’s defense that preserved the win over Dallas.
“While there are two statues here, this is not about two people,” Montana said. “This is about a team, an organization, going back to Mr. (Edward) DeBartolo, Bill Walsh and the organization that put together a team that came along to be where we are today.”
Clark died on June 4 after a two-year battle with ALS. He was 61.
“He’s here. I wish he were here in person,” Montana said. “We all miss him a lot. I just want to say thank you on behalf of both of us. It is truly, truly an honor to have these statues and be remembered forever.”
Kelly Clark, Dwight’s wife, reacted after the statues were revealed.
“It’s difficult to be back here without D.C.,” she said. “I know he would have absolutely loved this. It’s a very beautiful tribute to him, so thank you.”
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There are plans for a book based on the NBC Sports Bay Area documentary “Letters to 87.” We are asking for you to share your experiences of “The Catch” in letter form.
Dwight Clark enjoyed hearing stories about what people were doing during “The Catch” and/or how the play impacted lives.
Please send your letters to:
Letters to 87
NBC Sports Bay Area
360 Third Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94107