Sports world reacts after death of 49ers legend Dwight Clark

Ryan Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor

Former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark — most known for making “The Catch,” a last-second touchdown grab from Joe Montana to win the 1981 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys — died after a battle with ALS on Monday.

He was 61 years old.

“I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband,” Kelly Clark tweeted from Dwight’s verified Twitter account. “He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight’s friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS. Kelly Clark.”

The 49ers changed their avatar and header photo on Twitter Monday afternoon to honor Clark and released a statement shortly after his death, calling him “one of the most beloved figures” in team history.

“The San Francisco 49ers family has suffered a tremendous loss today with the passing of Dwight Clark,” the 49ers said in a statement. “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.”

Many in the sports world took to Twitter after learning of Clark’s death, including several former teammates and current 49ers.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted a heartfelt Instagram post about Clark, too, recalling where he was on the day of “The Catch.”

“Dwight Clark was one of my idols growing up in San Mateo,” Brady wrote on Instagram. “I was lucky enough to be at the game where my hero Joe Montana perfectly placed the game winning throw/catch to Dwight in the corner of the end zone to beat the Cowboys in the 1981 season. I was four years old and cried to my parents the entire first half because I couldn’t see the field when the grown ups would stand and scream for the 49ers.

“I got a chance to meet him when we happened to share the same orthodontist in San Mateo and I sabotaged one of his visits just to meet him and shake his hand. He was incredibly gracious to me that day as a young boy. And I never forgot the impact he made on me as all of our heroes do.

“I am sad tonight hearing of his passing of ALS but I know he is now resting and at peace finally after many years valiantly fighting such a terrible disease. Thank you for the great memories and RIP!”

Many other players from around the league tweeted about Clark on Monday, too.

The sports world took to social media on Monday after learning that San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark — most famous for “The Catch” in the 1981 NFC Championship game — died after a battle with ALS. (Getty Images)

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