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Dwight Clark, legendary receiver who made “The Catch,” dies at 61

Dwight Clark, who was the receiver involved in the famous Catch from Joe Montana, died at 61 after a battle with ALS.

Dwight Clark, the 49ers star wide receiver who will live in NFL history for making “The Catch,” has died after a battle with ALS. He was 61.

Clark’s wife Kelly wrote on his Twitter account that he died today.

“I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband,” Kelly Clark wrote. “He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight’s friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS.”

Although he wasn’t a star in college at Clemson, 49ers coach Bill Walsh saw something in Clark and selected him in the 10th round of the 1979 NFL draft. After playing sparingly as a rookie, Clark burst onto the scene in 1980, finishing third in the NFL with 82 catches.

And then in the 1981 season, Clark was even better, culminating in the NFC Championship Game, when, with the 49ers trailing the Cowboys 27-21 in the final minute, Joe Montana lobbed a high pass into the back of the end zone, where Clark leapt into the air and caught it for the touchdown that would send the 49ers to the Super Bowl. That play has been dubbed “The Catch,” and remains among the great plays in NFL history.

Clark retired after the 1987 season, and worked in football operations, both with the 49ers and with the Browns. He announced last year that he was battling ALS, and today the disease took his life. But Clark’s legacy, and his great Catch, will live on.