May 5, 2016

Highlighted Year: Dwight Clark, 1981

Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers

Age: 24
3rd season in pro football & with 49ers
College: Clemson
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 205

Playing across from star WR Jerry Butler in college, Clark caught 33 passes for 571 yards (17.3 avg.) and three touchdowns and was chosen by the 49ers in the 10th round of the 1979 NFL draft. He started three games as a rookie and had 18 catches for 232 yards, but broke out in 1980 with 82 receptions for 991 yards and eight touchdowns. An overachieving possession receiver, he proved to be a comfortable fit in San Francisco’s West Coast passing offense.

1981 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 85 [2, 1st in NFC]    
Most receptions, game – 9 (for 77 yds.) at Atlanta 9/20
Yards – 1105 [9]
Most yards, game – 135 (on 4 catches) vs. Dallas 10/11
Average gain – 13.0
TDs – 4
100-yard receiving games – 3

Attempts – 3
Yards – 32
Average gain – 10.7
TDs – 0

Attempts – 1
Completions – 0
Yards – 0
Interceptions – 0

TDs – 4
Points – 24

Postseason: 3 G
Pass receptions – 17
Most pass receptions, game – 8 vs. Dallas, NFC Championship
Pass receiving yards – 269
Most pass receiving yards, game – 120 vs. Dallas, NFC Championship
Average yards per reception – 15.8
Pass Receiving TDs – 2

Rushing attempts – 2
Rushing yards – 4
Yards per attempt – 2.0
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
2nd team All-NFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

49ers went 13-3 to finish first in the NFC West. Won NFC Divisional playoff over New York Giants (38-24), NFC Championship over Dallas Cowboys (28-27) & Super Bowl over Cincinnati Bengals (26-21).

While the 49ers dipped from their championship form in 1982, Clark led the NFL with 60 catches, for 913 yards (15.2 avg.) and five touchdowns, in the strike-shortened season and was a consensus first-team All-NFL as well as Pro Bowl selection. He had 70 receptions for 840 yards and 8 TDs in ’83, but also had knee surgery. Clark remained a dependable clutch receiver until 1987, when further knee problems ended his career after nine seasons, all with the 49ers. Overall, he caught 506 passes for 6750 yards (13.3 avg.) and 48 touchdowns. He added another 48 receptions for 726 yards (15.1 avg.) and three TDs in the postseason, which included his dramatic NFC Championship game-winning catch in 1981. Clark was a consensus first-team All-NFL choice once and was chosen to two Pro Bowls. The 49ers retired his #87.


Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

1 comment:

  1. A lot of people forget that Joe Montana didn't have the legendary Jerry Rice or John Taylor to throw to until about the middle of his HOF career, his first two Super Bowls were won by throwing to Dwight Clark, Freddie Solomon (the speedy deep threat of the team), and an assortment of capable but journeymen running backs (with the exception of Roger Craig, a truly talented multi-threat). Clark was one of the best possession receivers in the game at the time. He had no speed and wasn't much of a threat after the catch, but he could reliably move the first down markers and, with his size and big hands he could snare the ball in a crowd or outfight defensive backs for the ball in the clutch. He may or may not have been able to make it with other teams or other quarterbacks, but he was perfect for Montana's well-timed, soft passes. A lot of Montana's reputation in the first half of his career was made by throwing to Dwight Clark. An excellent example of an ordinary receiver becoming extraordinary by his overachieving play.