It was 3rd-and-3 with 58 seconds remaining, a trip to Super Bowl XVI was on the line, and Joe Montana needed to make a play. The Hall of Fame quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, as he did time and time again, spotted wide receiver Dwight Clark in the end zone and threw a pass for the history books.
“Montana… looking, looking, throwing in the end zone,” legendary broadcaster Vin Scully said on CBS Television. “Clark caught it! Dwight Clark!… It’s a madhouse at Candlestick!”
San Francisco capped off a 14-play, 83-yard drive with the 6-yard touchdown pass from Montana to Clark, and the 49ers won the NFC Championship over the Dallas Cowboys, 28-27, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif.
Widely regarded as one of the most memorable plays in NFL history, “The Catch” will forever live in San Francisco lore, and in the hearts of 49ers fans, and now it will have have a permanent sculpture in honor the legend who caught the game-winning touchdown and helped the 49ers capture their first Super Bowl championship during the 1981-82 season.
Clark passed away on June 4 after a near-15-month battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 61.
The larger-than-life sculpture, which is 7-feet tall and will weigh 350 pounds, will truly be one of a kind, but that’s not all the organization has planned to honor the late Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. Hall of Famer.
“Almost four decades ago, Dwight Clark’s miraculous catch launched the San Francisco 49ers into an era of excellence,” 49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement. “Since that time, he has served as an inspirational figure to citizens of the Bay Area and beyond. Dwight has meant so much to so many and it is only meeting that our organization continues to a carry on his wonderful legacy.”
Here is all that is happening to honor No. 87 during the 2018 NFL season:
— All 49ers players will wear “87” helmet decals throughout the season
— Levi’s Stadium field bunting will pay tribute to Clark during all 49ers games
— The nationally televised game on October 21 against the Los Angels Rams has a number of tributes to Clark’s legacy:
— The game will be highlighted by the unveiling of statues depicting “The Catch” outside of Levi’s® Stadium. The 350-pound statues of Dwight Clark and Joe Montana will be placed exactly 23 yards apart, just as the two 49ers were during the famous play. The representation of Clark, with his hands outstretched, will extend 11 feet in the air.
— During the game, the playing field will feature an “87” marking in the north end zone commemorating the location of “The Catch”.
— The contest will also serve as the 49ers annual Alumni Game and, therefore, funds will be raised throughout the weekend to support Clark’s charity of choice, the Golden Heart Fund. The fund was established in 2016 to support 49ers alumni in need of financial, medical, psychological or emotional support.
— All 49ers proceeds from the season-long sale of Dwight Clark Day t-shirts and Dwight Clark merchandise currently in-stock at the 49ers Team Store at Levi’s Stadium and online will be donated to the Golden Heart Fund.
It doesn’t really get any more special than that.
Montana might have established his legacy for engineering that drive, but it doesn’t happen without Clark’s catch.
The man who made the touchdown grab meant so much to the Bay Area, and it’s only right to have a season-long tribute to honor him.