SANTA CLARA — Dozens of former 49ers players attended the Dwight Clark and Joe Montana statues unveiling outside Levi’s Stadium Sunday morning.
Many of the organization’s icons, including Montana, Keena Turner, Ronnie Lott, and Terrell Owens, were on hand. Members of Clark’s family, including widow Kelly Clark and brother Jeff Clark, were also involved in the ceremony. They caught up with KNBR after the ceremony to reflect on the statues, the meanings behind them, and their lasting memories of Clark.
Kelly Clark, who held back tears during her brief speech before the unveiling, said the statue was beautiful to see.
“It means a lot to have the statue because it would have meant a lot to him,” she said. “He would have been so humbled by it, and he would have loved that his fans get to see it, too.”
The statues of Clark and Montana, standing 23 yards apart to depict the exact distance of The Catch, weighed 350 pounds apiece. Jeff Clark joked about the physics of the sculpture.
“My first thought was I don’t think (Clark) jumped that high, but I hope it’s accurate,” he said. “Pride, overwhelming pride. I think it was so fitting that Joe was involved with this as well because as Joe said in his comments, I don’t meant to sound like such a cliche, but it is a team effort to get everybody to where they needed to be. Only Joe Montana could throw it in one spot, and Dwight had enough sense to be there to catch it.”
Owens, a member of the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, wore his gold jacket Sunday morning. He talked about his own version of The Catch, what many consider The Catch II, when his touchdown grab with four seconds remaining lifted the 49ers over the Green Bay Packers in the 1998 NFC Wild Card game.
“Nobody will ever forget The Catch,” Owens said. “Obviously, I am kind of linked with The Catch because everybody considered my catch The Catch II. But it wouldn’t be The Catch II without the actual Catch. I am very fortunate to be here.”
Rice, the only 49ers receiver to lead Owens in just about every receiving category, reflected on the lessons Dwight taught him.
“Dwight just really taught me how to be a professional on the football field and off the football field,” Rice said. “He helped me run that out route when I first came here. He was just a team player. You knew whenever he stepped onto the football field, you was going to get his best, and I think that’s why we had so much success here in San Francisco.”
Turner, who spent all 11 years of his NFL career with the 49ers, winning four Super Bowls, remembered Clark’s traits that endeared him to seemingly everyone.
“His laughter, his personality — he had this over-the-top, engaging personality,” Turner said. “He always made you feel comfortable, at home, and he was the type of guy that would do whatever he could for you. He was always looking to help you. Even through the tough last year and a half, his first comments whenever I saw him were, ‘Hey man, how can I help, what can I do for you? The laughter, and those moments of support is what I remember.”
Turner said the unveiling of the statues was “unbelievable.” The ‘larger-than-life’ idea of the sculptures applies to the play itself, which is immortalized as one of the most famous plays in NFL history.
“What’s pretty amazing is they are bigger than life-sized,” Turner said. “The pure size of the statues themselves, representing that moment and play.”