49ers to immortalize 'The Catch' with Levi's Stadium statue

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SANTA CLARA — Joe Montana to Dwight Clark, already an indelible pair in 49ers history, will be forever depicted in the moment of their greatest glory.

The 49ers announced Wednesday morning that a statue commemorating “The Catch” will be erected outside Levi’s Stadium. It’s part of a season-long tribute to Clark, who died at age 61 on June 4 after a public struggle with ALS.

The elaborate two-part statue will feature Clark suspended in midair while gathering the ball in his outstretched fingertips. The receiver’s hands will be 11 feet off the ground to approximate his still-shocking vertical leap.

The Montana statue, meanwhile, will placed 23 yards behind him because that’s how far away the quarterback was when he launched the pass that helped topple the Dallas Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship game.

In both cases, the statues will done at a 120 percent scale, which is to say Montana and Clark will be larger than life.

Jed York, the 49ers CEO, echoing words spoken at Clark’s recent memorial service, wants memories of “The Catch” — and the man who made it — to remain part of the everyday fan experience.

“His life, his smile and what he brought to so many people, you want that to continue on,” York said Tuesday night at an intimate gathering at Levi’s Stadium.

The statue will be unveiled outside the stadium plaza before the 49ers’ game against the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 21.

That’s just one of several planned several tributes to Clark. President Al Guido also revealed during the Tuesday night gathering that reminders of the player known affectionately as “DC” will be everywhere on game day.

Current 49ers players will wear a No. 87 decal on their helmets for every game. The bunting at Levi’s Stadium will feature the image of Clark making his famous catch. And during that nationally televised prime-time Rams game, there will be an “87” insignia in the corner of the north end zone to commemorate where Clark made The Catch at Candlestick Park on Jan. 10, 1982.

Along the way, the 49ers will raise money for Clark’s charity of choice, the Golden Heart Fund, which helps support former 49ers in need of financial, medical, psychological or emotional support.

On a lighthearted note, the team will also have Clark’s hilariously garish white fur coat on display in the 49ers Hall of Fame and Museum this season.

Jerry Rice modeled that infamous fashion choice Tuesday night, strutting around in the fur coat that Clark wore at the 49ers’ first Super Bowl victory parade.

“You look good in that,” Guido said.

“I always do,” Rice replied.

The Tuesday night event in the movie theater at the 49ers Museum also served as a screening for “Letters to 87,” a half-hour documentary that captures the bond between Clark and generations of fans.

At the behest of Clark, longtime reporter Matt Maiocco, a former Press Democrat sports writer who covers the 49ers for NBC Sports Bay Area, asked fans to write about their personal connections to The Catch.

Maiocco, along with ex-49ers such as Ronnie Lott and Keena Turner, then transported those letters to a ranch in Whitefish, Montana, where Clark spent his final months.

The group of friends gathered around Clark’s bedside and read him letters that were poignant, powerful, funny — and sometimes profane. Clark loved every one.

“The one thing Dwight did is he always gave to his fans,” Maiocco said at the screening. “When the fans wanted Dwight, he was there.

“What this documentary is about is that when Dwight needed the fans, the fans were there. And they stepped up in a big way and made a huge impact on Dwight two weeks before he passed away.”

The film will premier on NBC Bay Area on Aug. 21 after the Giants’ postgame show (approximately 8 p.m.).

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