A tribute to one of the greatest moments in San Francisco 49ers history is now on display at Levi’s Stadium. A larger than life rendering of the famous play simply known as “The Catch” was unveiled before Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
It was a bittersweet moment for the 49ers faithful. While quarterback Joe Montana was on hand for the unveiling, the other half of the duo responsible for the famous play was not. Dwight Clark died in June of this year after a battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. While Clark was not there, his widow Kelly Clark was.
“It’s difficult to be back here without D.C,” said Kelly Clark as she fought back tears. “I know he would have absolutely loved this. I’m very humbled and it’s a beautiful tribute to him.”
During his speech, Montana also paid tribute to Clark.
“If he was here today, he’d be whispering in my ear, ‘You know, they didn’t call it The Throw for a reason.’” said Montana. “He’s here. I wish he was here in person. We all miss him a lot.”
The statues are located right inside Intel Gate A on the far east side of the stadium. They are 23 yards apart and feature Montana with his arms up, celebrating the throw while Clark floats in the air, the ball securely in his grasp.
The 6-yard touchdown catch by Clark happened with just 58 seconds to play in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. It capped off an 83-yard drive engineered by Montana and led the 49ers to a 28-27 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
The win sent the 49ers to Super Bowl XVI and led to the team’s first ever Super Bowl win, a 26-21 defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals. It also marked the start of the 49ers’ dynasty.
“We’re so happy that Dwight is going to be here forever and everybody’s going to remember him,” said Jed York, 49ers CEO. “Whether they saw the play live, whether they remember where they were or they just know that’s what started one of the greatest dynasties in the history of sports.”
“I just want to say thank you on behalf of both of us,” said Montana. “It’s truly, truly an honor to have these statues and be remembered forever.”
Among the 49ers alumni there to honor Clark were former wide receivers Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, as well as former quarterback Steve Bono.
The 49ers will wear an “87” decal on their helmets throughout the season in memory of Clark. The spot on the field where the famed catch was made is marked with an “87” as well.