Just lucky? Not quite.
The touchdown pass from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark in the NFL’s 1981 NFC championship game in San Francisco is so well-known – and revered, at least to 49ers fans – that it is simply known as “The Catch.” With 58 seconds left in the game between San Francisco and Dallas, and the 49ers facing 3rd-and-3 from the Cowboys’ six-yard line, wide receiver Clark made a leaping, fingertip catch of Montana’s pass in the back of the end zone, allowing the 49ers to defeat the Cowboys, 28–27, and move on to Super Bowl XVI.
The Cowboys said it was pure luck — that Montana was trying to throw the ball away and Clark was fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of the errant pass. But Sam Wyche ’66 was an assistant coach and passing game coordinator for the 49ers at the time, and he will tell you that Montana’s pass was true and Clark was exactly where he was supposed to be. In a special video extra for Furman magazine, Wyche explains how “Sprint Right Option” became one of the NFL’s most legendary moments.
Editor's note: Sam Wyche passed away on January 2, 2020. The Furman family mourns his passing but will always remember his remarkable spirit and contributions to the university, football and the cause of organ donation. We are grateful to have captured his inspiring story in 2019.