The San Francisco 49ers have done tributes all through the 2018 season to celebrate the life of Dwight Clark, the wide receiver recipient of the Catch who passed away after a battle with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Now it’s Clemson’s turn.
Clemson University, Clark’s alma mater will be playing in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, but there’s more than a trophy to get. An article by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Dalton Johnson suggests the Tigers plan to play in honor of Clark.
One of the key stops is the statue. The Tigers plan on making a prolonged visit to the recently dedicated statue of Clark depicting him making 49ers dynasty-defining Catch that greets attendees to Levi’s Stadium at Gate A of the southwestern entrance.A photo with the whole team near Clemson’s former wide receiver is in the plans if the weather holds up.
From there, it’s getting fired up and playing the Alabama Crimson tide in honor of Clark, who spent three seasons playing for the Tigers.
Clemson Linebacker Jalen Williams, who coincidentally wears Clark’s jersey number 30, learned the legacy of Clark in somewhat short time. From Johnson’s article:
To have his statue right outside the stadium, when we pull in and get dressed for the game, the whole team’s gonna be fired up,” Williams told NBC Sports Bay Area at media day Saturday at SAP Center.
Williams didn’t know he was wearing the same number as Clark did when he first arrived at Clemson. He now realizes just how big of a deal it is.
“I kind of dug into it myself,” Williams said. “I found out about his statue just recently, so I just realized how significant the number is.”
When Clark passed away, there was an outpouring of support from the 49ers fans and players—both former and present. The short film Letters to 87 chronicles the hundreds of letters Clark received from people who were touched by the Catch. A pivotal play in 49ers history that catapulted them to being a dynasty. Players wore an ‘87’ decal on their helmets for the 2018 season in honor of the wide receiver.
The 49ers meant a lot to Clark but as Johnson notes, the Tigers were just as important. Tigers head coach Dabo Sweeny sent Clark a jersey just before his passing. A gesture Clark couldn’t stop talking about, despite Super Bowl rings and NFL stardom. When Clark wasn’t rooting for the 49ers, he was behind his Tigers.
The Tigers play the Alabama Crimson Tide Monday evening. The kickoff is at 5:00 p.m. PST.