49ers legend Dwight Clark dies after battle with ALS

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Former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark passed away Monday after his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He was 61 years old. 

Clark's wife Kelly tweeted on Monday from Dwight Clark's official account. "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. 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 San Francisco 49ers family has suffered a tremendous loss today with the passing of Dwight Clark....For almost four decades, he served as a charismatic ambassador for our team and the Bay Area," the 49ers organization said in a statement.  "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." 

Clark, who retired from the NFL in 1987, announced his ALS diagnosis on March 19, 2017 saying he would “live every day to the fullest” while he battles the disease.

“While I’m still trying to wrap my head around the challenge I will face with this disease over the coming years, the only thing I know is that I’m going to fight like hell,” he said.

Clark was drafted by the 49ers in the 10th round (249th overall) of the 1979 NFL Draft. He spent his entire nine-year playing career with San Francisco (1979-87), appearing in 134 regular season games, the third-most among 49ers wide receivers, and registered 506 receptions for 6,750 yards (13.3 average) and 48 touchdowns.

A two-time Super Bowl champion (Super Bowl XVI & Super Bowl XIX), Clark was named First-Team All-Pro in 1982 after leading the NFL with 60 receptions. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl in 1982 and 1983. 

The most memorable moment of his career was when he caught the winning touchdown pass known thrown by quarterback Joe Montana in the NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys in January 1982.  Now simply known as "The Catch," arguably the single-most famous moment in Bay Area sports history and one of the greatest in NFL history. San Francisco went on to defeat the Cowboys, 28-27, which sent the 49ers to their first Super Bowl.

Clark's number 87 jersey was retired by the 49ers in 1988.