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Former 49ers receiver Dwight Clark announces ALS diagnosis

San Francisco 49ers legendary receiver Dwight Clark announced Sunday he has been diagnosed with ALS.

"I have ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease," Clark wrote in a statement posted on his blog. "Those words are still very hard for me to say."

The former 49ers receiver, who's most famous for his iconic game-winning touchdown -- which was later dubbed "The Catch" -- against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, said his diagnosis came after visits with six neurologists and three ALS specialists.

"While I'm still trying to wrap my head around the challenge I will face with this disease over the coming years," Clark wrote, "the only thing I know is that I'm going to fight like hell and live every day to the fullest."

Clark recorded 506 catches for 6750 yards and 48 touchdowns in his eight-year career with the 49ers. He won two Super Bowls with San Francisco (XVI, XIX) and later served as the team's general manger in 1998.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of Dwight's recent diagnosis," 49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement from the team. "As a member of our family, he will receive the full and unconditional support of the San Francisco 49ers. Many know Dwight as an iconic figure in 49ers lore, whose accomplishments on the field brought joy to fans around the world.

"Our organization is fortunate to know him more intimately as a wonderful man who has given so much of himself as an ambassador to the entire Bay Area. We will stand alongside Dwight and his family as they wage this battle."

Niners general manager John Lynch also released statement regarding the announcement:

"My family and I were truly saddened by Dwight's announcement. Three years ago, our family lose my mother-in-law to this heartbreaking disease. During her battle, we found strength and comfort in the support of hose who loved her. Now, I urge 49ers fans, fans of football, to band together and join Dwight and his family's fight against ALS."

Several 49ers legends also offered their thoughts and condolences to Clark on Sunday night, via The Mercury News:

"Jennifer and I are saddened by the diagnosis of Dwight," Clark's former teammate and quarterback Joe Montana said. "This is a difficult time for Dwight, Kelly and all of us who love him. He is family, and in our continual thoughts and prayers. We hope the public will be cognizant of Dwight's desire for privacy."

"To live with another of my best friends struggling with a disease like ALS is devastating," former teammate and Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott said. "I'm asking all of us to not only send their prayers but I'm asking you to do whatever you can to fight this disease. Dwight will be a champion, which he has been able to show since I met him, since the first time he's hugged me and to this day moving forward."

"DC has done so much for me as a player and friend," added Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, who was teammates with Clark. "My rookie year he showed me how to run that out route! We know him for the catch but he's a great individual who cares about people. Please pray for him Faithful through this adversity!!! I love the guy!!!!"

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