Clemson University

Former Clemson, 49ers great Dwight Clark dies from ALS

Former Clemson and 49ers receiver Dwight Clark died on Monday.
Former Clemson and 49ers receiver Dwight Clark died on Monday. USA TODAY Sports

Former Clemson wide receiver and two-time 49ers Super Bowl winner Dwight Clark has died from ALS, his wife Kelly Clark announced on Twitter Monday night.

Clark, who is most known for making “the catch” in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, died in Montana surrounded by family and friends. He was 61 years old.

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

Clark played at Clemson from 1975-78, catching 33 passes for 571 yards during his time with the Tigers. His average of 17.3 yards per catch is seventh best in Clemson school history.

“My heart breaks today. When I was growing up I remember watching Dwight Clark play. As a receiver he was someone I looked up to," Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement. "I remember his catch against the Dallas Cowboys. Then I had the opportunity meet him and play golf with him when I became the head coach at Clemson. He sent me a signed ball with a diagram of that play against the Cowboys and I still have that in my office in a prominent place."

The North Carolina native was drafted by the 49ers in the 10th round of the 1979 NFL draft and played for San Francisco from 1979-87.

Clark caught 506 passes for 6,750 yards and 48 touchdowns during his nine-year career. His No. 87 jersey is retired by the 49ers.

Clark was inducted into the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame in April, along with John Abraham, Paul Maguire, Clay Matthews, Sr. and Richard Seymour.

“About a month ago when he was inducted into the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame, I returned the favor somewhat in that I had a No. 30 Clemson jersey made with his name on it and I sent it to him with some other Clemson items. He called and left me a voice mail to thank me for the jersey and to tell me the jerseys today weren’t anything like the tear-away jerseys from his day," Swinney said. "He closed by telling me how proud he was of our program. That meant a lot.”