ROSEVILLE (CBS13) —Dwight Clark’s teammates and friends are mourning his loss tonight.
Clark died following a battle with ALS. He announced the diagnosis just over a year ago.
“He was always good to everybody, good guy, just happy to be there…a great teammate,” former San Francisco 49er Dan Bunz said.
Bunz and Clark visited weeks ago, taking a picture with the frail Clark posing with a smile.
“You know it’s coming, but you don’t want to believe it,” Bunz said.
Bunz and Clark are linked forever on the legendary 1981 49ers team. Clark made the famous catch in the 1981 NFC Conference Championship game to advance the 49ers to the team’s first Super Bowl.
In that Super Bowl, Bunz tackled Cincinnati Bengals running back Charles Alexander a yard short of a touchdown, a goal-line stop giving the 49ers the first of five Super Bowl wins. If Bunz went lower with that tackle, the Bengals would have taken the lead and likely won.
“Him and I always kidded,” Bunz said. “‘Dwight you made the catch, but the catch would mean nothing if I don’t make the stop.’ ‘Bunz you never get to make the stop if I don’t make the catch.’ Yeah, we worked together symbiotically.”
The bonds formed that incredible year were never broken. And Clark’s announcement last season he was diagnosed with ALS showed how tight that 49ers team all these decades later.
In their last visit, Bunz and Clark reminisced as usual.
“It was just nice, it was just like, ‘let’s have a break and just talk and share and enjoy each other’s company,’” Bunz said.
Clark believed the hard hits he took playing in the NFL contributed to his ALS disease. Bunz said Clark tried experimental treatments but nothing helped.
The disease, toppling a legend who once leaped into 49er fans’ hearts, and whose character kept him there, forever.
“The guy, he’s just, was a great guy and I’ll miss him and it’s going to be a tough night for me,” Bunz said.