The San Francisco 49ers are working on ways to honor legendary wide receiver Dwight Clark following his passing, and on Tuesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch met with the media to talk about Clark’s impact on them and the organization. I’ve posted some of their comments below, along with video (and links if you can’t see the embedded video).
The coaching staff had Keena Turner speak to the team following Clark’s passing. Turner serves as an adviser to Lynch, and given his history with the organization, he’s the perfect guy to talk about what Clark meant. Clark was an integral part of the beginning of the 49ers dynasty, and yet was never one to puff out his chest and demand the recognition he rightly deserved. He was the consummate teammate, which is critical in a team game like football.
The 49ers have a long way to go to reach anything close to what the 49ers of the 80s reached, but one key step they can talk is building the kind of bond we always heard about with regard to some of those legends. It doesn’t guarantee Super Bowl success, but without that kind of team bond, you’re already several steps behind the curve.
Kyle Shanahan (video)
Kyle Shanahan on the loss of Dwight Clark. He shares a few great memories here:Posted by Niners Nation: A San Francisco 49ers Blog on Tuesday, June 5, 2018
“Yesterday was a tough day for the Niners, losing such a great like that. I think everyone knows the player Dwight was. I heard a lot about it when I moved here, mainly from my parents, because I moved here in sixth grade. So, I was younger, and I didn’t grow up at that time where I knew all about The Catch. But within a week of being here, I knew all about it.
”Spent sixth grade, seventh grade and eighth grade as a ball boy up there, where I got to spend a lot of time with Dwight — him and Vinny were working in the pro department, and those were two guys I hung around a lot. I just know how great of a person he was, where everyone else knows the player he was. Over the last year, just being here, being able to see him a number of times up in the building, I got to talk to him last on draft day last year and he hasn’t changed a bit. Such a good person, so special to this place.
”We had Keena talk to the team a little about him today, and to tell them what type of guy he was. Just to hear how he was in the locker room. It wasn’t a coincidence that team was so tight. To hear the type of teammate he was, the type of friend he was to people like Keena and the rest of the team — that’s what we’re trying to build here. That’s why they had a great culture then — it started with great people, it started with Dwight, and that’s what we’re trying to emulate.”
His memories during his time with the team as a kid:
“He always used to pick on me, left and right. I was their guinea pig. They’d send me on errands. They’d all have golf carts, and I would always have to race next to them. I’d always have to run and I’d always lose. I think I entertained them a lot and just looked up to them. I didn’t know it at the time, but now that I’m older and I look back on that stuff, that stuff had a huge impact on who I am now. I feel very fortunate to be able to grow up around that.”
John Lynch (video)
John Lynch on the passing of Dwight Clark. He promises the team will have some sort of tribute this coming season.Posted by Niners Nation: A San Francisco 49ers Blog on Tuesday, June 5, 2018
“I think the one thing that’s been impressed upon me since I’ve been here, I think just the love that this community and this fanbase had for Dwight. You think of Ronnie and you think of Jerry, but what I learned when I came here is that Dwight’s right there. Obviously, the iconic plays, but I think also, Keena did a great job, and it was appropriate Keena came said a few words about what Dwight meant, and why he’s such a part of this organization’s history, and great history, iconic history. Obviously, the play, but it was much deeper than that. It’s kind of what he stood for, and he always prepared for excellence, is what Keena talked about. So that play wasn’t just an accident, it was the product of his constant preparation, the standard that he set for himself and for his teammates — and then the fact that he just loved every day. And that was contagious. So I think he really kind of embodies what that whole generation of players were about.”
Getting to know Clark:
“I just know from being around him, I think, gosh, in my second week on the job, Jed asked him to come up. I had met Dwight a few times, but Jed asked him to come up, and I think there were some parallels, him coming from the player route into that role that he served. And we just talked, and we visited, and talked about his challenge. I gave him my best. But really, he was more there for me and just talking about some pointers and what not. I’ll always value that.
“On one other occasion, I went down with Keena to one of those lunches down in Capitola and laughed the entire time because he made us laugh. Just a treat to get to know him, just a little bit. And you grieve like everyone else.”
Clark’s advice to him:
“His advice was, ‘Trust your instincts. You know football’. It was very similar to what John Elway told me, who came from a similar path. ‘Don’t make this more than it is. Hire good people around you.’ And then, like you’d expect out of Dwight, ‘Also, have some fun doing this. It should be fun. This is football. You had fun playing. Have some fun in this role. Don’t take it too seriously.’ And so, that will always stick with me.”
On wanting a similar bond for the current 49ers:
“I think we’re always very careful. Those guys earned that, we have to earn it. So we know, when we ask these guys to be around, it’s not to try to use them for anything other than a great example of what we strive to be, and we really know that we have to go create that ourselves. But gosh, when those guys come out here, you know, we showed a film today, and the guys really enjoyed that. They really enjoyed Keena talking about his teammate, and why he was so important to their turnaround and their becoming champions. And told a great story that he was just a kind of a throwaway. Bill Walsh went to watch a quarterback, and he was the guy that showed up as the receiver, and next thing you know he became part of this tremendous turnaround, and part of an iconic team here that will always be remembered as one of the great teams.”
Plans for 2018 to honor him:
”We’re talking about a lot of things,” Lynch said. “I know Al Guido is talking with the league about what we can do and I know there’s always approval there, but I promise you we’ll come up with a nice way to honor him. I think not only nice, but fitting. He deserves it. He’s earned it. I’ve talked about how beloved he is with this fanbase and he earned that, and so I think we’ll do the right thing and be happy to do so.”