Lowell Cohn: Bill Walsh's planning, Joe Montana's pass and Dwight Clark's great leap put 49ers in first Super Bowl

  • Dwight Clark hauled in the game-winning touchdown catch and the 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in 1982 en route to the first of the team's first four Super Bowls. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

SANTA CLARA — He's still handsome and, at 56, he looks young and his voice is rich and soothing. Someone once said his voice is “all milk and honey.”

Dwight Clark.

Made “The Catch.”

Candlestick Park Through the Years


Caught that pass from Joe Montana and ran the 49ers right into their first Super Bowl victory, ran them right into their dynasty.

That Dwight Clark.

The Catch was the most famous sports play in Candlestick Park — ever. Name your sport. Candlestick Park is about to get snuffed and Clark has come to a coffee shop to talk about The Catch in honor of the 49ers' last game at Candlestick on Monday night.

He never tires of talking about The Catch. It's part of his identity. It links him to Joe and Bill and Eddie. No last names required. He works as a public-relations ambassador for five companies, including the 49ers, and much of the time he tells fans about The Catch, officially a 6-yard touchdown grab ending a 13-play, 89-yard drive.

Some fans weren't alive on Jan. 10, 1982, when he caught that ball in the NFC championship game against the Dallas Cowboys on a third-and-3 with 58 seconds left in the game and the Niners down 27-21. Fans — Clark remembers a 7-year-old boy — want to hear the story from his lips in his voice of milk and honey. “Tell me about The Catch.”

He gets right to it over his cup of coffee, his delivery fresh, enthusiastic, like he's never told the story before. For the record, he is talking about “Sprint Right Option,” the ultimate iconic play in the grand history of 49ers' iconic plays.

“It was one of Bill's favorite plays,” Clark says. “He brought it from Cincinnati. I don't know if he created it or Paul Brown, but Bill loved that play. The first time we practiced it, Bill kept us after practice and said, 'I want you guys to try this play. You line up in a slot formation.'

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