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49ers immortalize ‘The Catch’ with Levi’s ceremony, statues

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Fans pose next to a statue of Joe Montana commemorating "The Catch, " which was unveiled along with a statue of wide receiver Dwight Clark before the Los Angeles Rams face the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, October 21, 2018. Clark caught a touchdown pass, known as "The Catch," from Montana in the NFC Championship game to beat the Dallas Cowboys on January 10, 1982. (Scot Tucker/SFBay)

Twenty-three feet.

A seemingly arbitrary measurement, but for the 49ers franchise it’s a key component of possibly it’s most memorable moment.

On the overcast morning of Sunday, Oct. 21, with jetliners overhead traveling to and from San Jose Airport, seen but not heard, the statues commemorating “The Catch” were unveiled at Levi’s Stadium.

Joe Montana and Dwight Clark are encapsulated in the legendary piece of time, their statues 23 feet apart, just as the two were on Jan. 10, 1982 in Candlestick Park. Montana’s standing with its arms raised, signaling a touchdown, while Clark’s suspended in midair, capturing his leaping reception in the back of the end zone.

Noreles Diaz and Alex Quiroz of San Pablo, Ca., pose next to a statue of Dwight Clark commemorating “The Catch, ” which was unveiled along with a statue of quarterback Joe Montana before the Los Angeles Rams face the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, October 21, 2018. Clark caught a touchdown pass, known as “The Catch,” from Montana in the NFC Championship game to beat the Dallas Cowboys on January 10, 1982. (Scot Tucker/SFBay)

Montana said the play was better understood years after it occurred:

“I don’t think anyone realized, on our team, how important this play would become in 49er history.”

CEO Jed York doubled-down on it’s significance:

“Next year is the 100th anniversary of the NFL, and they [the NFL] want every team to vote on what was the best play in the history of the team. For us, there’s absolutely no question what the best moment in the history of the San Francisco 49ers [is]. The only argument [there] is — was it the best play in the history of the NFL?”

In the most moving moment of the commemoration, Kelly, the wife of the former 49er receiver who died earlier this year after battling ALS, made her way to the podium. Speaking through tears, she noted how special this memorial is to her family:

“It’s difficult to be back here without D.C. [Dwight Clark]. I know he would have absolutely loved this. [I’m] very humbled. It’s a beautiful tribute to him, so thank you.”

Montana included a piece of humor while reminiscing on the historic moment that further linked him with his close friend:

“If [Clark] was here today I know what he’d be tellin’ me. He’d be whispering in my ear, ‘You know they didn’t call it ‘The Throw’ for a reason.’”

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