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Remembering The Catch

Pour one more out. Let’s remember the play that made the San Francisco 49ers, the San Francisco 49ers and Dwight Clark, Dwight Clark.

Dwight Clark passed away Monday at the age of 61 following a battle with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Clark may have done more for the San Francisco 49ers than any player after, helping send the team to the Super Bowl and transforming the organization into a dynasty.

It was all because of The Catch, better known as ‘Sprint-right Option’. The play would forever be associated with Clark from then-on. In the 1981 NFC Championship game, the 49ers trailed the Dallas Cowboys 27-21. On 3rd and 3, Joe Montana took the snap, rolled right, made a throw off his back foot that Clark nabbed in his fingertips. The play launched a new era and transformed Joe Montana into a larger than life sensation. All because Clark caught it.

Truthfully, I wasn’t born yet when this madness happened, but years later, my father who is a fan of the Indianapolis Colts recounted the entire event like he were a fan of the 49ers, telling me this story like Joe Montana and Dwight Clark were folk heroes. I doubt he was the only one who could do it—the play was that powerful. It was an emotional moment that hasn’t been done since and no sequel to it can ever replicate that night.

Here’s video of that special game where the 49ers made their transformation, and feel free to list your experiences with The Catch in the comments below. I want to collect some stories and do a post highlighting some of the better ones; where you were, who told you the story, or what happened after.

RIP Dwight Clark. Despite its sequels, The Catch was something so unique and special, from the photography, the commentary, and the aftermath. The experience was something no one—49ers fan or otherwise—had gone through, and it’s an experience that won’t ever happen again.