The San Francisco 49ers are celebrating Dwight Clark Day today at training camp and no matter how much we write, say, show, or produce, it will never be enough to do the man justice. Dwight Clark transformed the San Francisco 49ers with The Catch.
As the legend goes, the 49ers were on 3rd and 3 with under a minute left against the Dallas Cowboys. Bill Walsh dialed up a play and quarterback Joe Montana, after being chased to the sideline by five defenders, heaved the ball in the air. Clark was in the endzone and leaped into the air to pluck the would-be thrown away ball out of the sky.
The play sent the then-elite Cowboys into mediocrity and the 49ers dynasty began. It was also a play that defined Clark’s career and the 49ers. The Catch is approaching the 40-year mark and it’s still something talked about.
Rather than post just the video, I grabbed the entire 1981 NFC Championship Game and posted it above. The NFL still has that DMCA thing they have to deal with, so you may have to go here to watch it. If you can see it on Niners Nation, congratulations. While everyone talks about the Catch, Clark was a god on the field during that game with 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Remember, 1981. Those numbers are great in today’s NFL, but even more impressive back then.
Before we go, there’s a great Dwight Clark story I want to reset on Niners Nation concerning The Catch. After all the media coverage and championships, there was still an iconic photograph of Clark catching Montana’s pass. The film company Kodak was doing an advertising campaign and had to pay Clark for using his likeness. Clark later got Montana paid as well since it was Montana’s pass. Clark still wasn’t satisfied and went to find Everson Walls, the defender covering him in the photograph to be sure Walls was compensated as well. Clark found Walls at an autograph signing and hurried him along to get everything squared away. Walls had no idea what was going on but later said at that time not many people would look out for someone the way Clark did.
The Catch was a sports moment that had 49ers fans never experienced before. And they never again will.