On This Day: 49ers Dynasty Starts With ‘The Catch’

by Josh Lanier

Every kid who has tossed a football in the backyard has recreated the play. It’s one of the most iconic moments in sports history and it goes simply by “The Catch.”

It’s the moment the NFL recognized Joe Montana would be the Joe Montana. The play was pretty straight forward in actuality. There was less about a minute left in the 1982 NFC Championship game. Montana takes the snap from the Dallas Cowboys’ 6-yard line and rolls to his right. He lofts a pass high — too high it seems, but somehow sure-handed giant Dwight Clark is able to just pull it down in the back of the end zone with his fingertips. The San Francisco 49ers went on to win the game.

Though Montana swears he put the ball exactly where he wanted to, though analysts still debate if he was trying to throw the ball away.

And despite it being one of the most iconic plays of his career, Montana says he didn’t see it. A Cowboys’ defender had knocked him down.

“I saw Dwight’s feet touch the ground,” he would later tell Sports Illustrated. “I heard the crowd scream.”

But Montana would never need to worry about missing out. Aside from the countless replays of The Catch in every greatest NFL moments montage, the 49ers also created a statue of the moment. The team unveiled the bronze recreation of it outside Levi Stadium in 2018.

That’s because The Catch signifies the beginning of the 49ers’ dynasty that would lead to five Super Bowl victories.

“Without that catch, I don’t believe there would have been a dynasty for the Niners,” NFL announcer Bonnie-Jill Laflin said. “That’s why when I think of one of the best I think of Dwight Clark and The Catch.”

The NFL ranked The Catch as the second-greatest catch of all time. David Tyree’s helmet grab in Super Bowl 42 was the only one to top it.