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49ers legend Dwight Clark dies after battle with ALS

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The man on the receiving end of “The Catch” died Monday.

MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers legend Dwight Clark — most famous for his 1982 reception from Joe Montana forever dubbed “The Catch” — died Monday after a battle with ALS.

His wife, Kelly Clark, announced the news on Twitter:

Clark was a 10th-round draft pick in the 1979 NFL Draft and quickly established himself as one of Montana’s favorite targets. He was a Pro Bowler in 1981 and 1982, and led the league in receptions during a strike-shortened 1982 season.

His most famous moment came in the 1981 NFC Championship between the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Montana lobbed a pass high into the back of the end zone that Clark managed to haul in for a six-yard touchdown sending the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Clark’s No. 87 was retired by the 49ers and he briefly served as an NFL executive, including a four-year stint as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. He announced in March 2017 he had been diagnosed with ALS and spoke to 49ers fans in October at Levi’s Stadium.

Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo — who held a get-together for Clark with family and friends a month ago — released a statement Monday, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times:

“My heart is broken. Today, I lost my little brother and one of my best friends. I cannot put into words how special Dwight was to me and to everyone his life touched. He was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother, and a great friend and teammate. He showed tremendous courage and dignity in his battle with ALS and we hope there will soon be a cure for this horrendous disease. I will always remember Dwight the way he was — larger than life, handsome, charismatic, and the only one who could pull off wearing a fur coat at our Super Bowl parade. He was responsible for one of the most iconic plays in NFL history that began our run of Super Bowl championships, but to me, he will always be an extension of my family. I love him and will miss him terribly. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife Kelly, his children, and the entire Clark family.”

The 49ers as an organization released a statement on Clark’s passing, via the team’s official website:

“The San Francisco 49ers family has suffered a tremendous loss today with the passing of Dwight Clark. We extend our condolences and prayers to Dwight’s wife Kelly, his family, friends, and fans, as we join together to mourn the death of one the most beloved figures in 49ers’ history. For almost four decades, he served as a charismatic ambassador for our team and the Bay Area. Dwight’s personality and his sense of humor endeared him to everyone he came into contact with, even during his most trying times. The strength, perseverance, and grace with which he battled ALS will long serve as an inspiration to so many. Dwight will always carry a special place in our hearts and his legacy will live on as we continue to battle this terrible disease.”

And from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell:

“All of us in the NFL are saddened by the passing of Dwight Clark. Dwight made many memorable contributions on the field as a two-time Super Bowl champion and later as a member of the front office of the 49ers and Browns. He will forever live on in our memories for The Catch but also for his kind, gentle and courageous spirit. We send our deepest sympathies and love to Dwight’s wife Kelly, his family, teammates, and the many people whose lives he touched, including mine, throughout his career and life.”

His longtime teammate and the one who tossed him “The Catch,” Joe Montana, released a statement along with his wife Jennifer:

“Dwight was a vibrant, charismatic soul!!! Jennifer and I are heartbroken over his passing. While we knew it was inevitably coming, it came way too soon! We are grateful for the decades of love and friendship we shared. We are praying for Dwight, his family and for all your prayers also. We will miss you dearly! Love Jennifer and Joe Montana.”

Tom Brady, who was a 49ers fan growing up, paid tribute to Clark as well:

Clark was 61.