Former San Francisco 49ers tight end Greg Clark has died at the age of 49.
Clark’s family released a statement Friday announcing his passing, per Kyle Ireland of KSL Sports:
“It is with great sadness we announce the unexpected passing of Greg Clark, 49, cherished husband, father, son, brother and friend to so many. Greg was a dedicated family man who was successful at everything he did, from his academic and athletic achievements as a Stanford scholar athlete to his role as a tight end for the San Francisco 49ers, to the creation of a successful real estate platform throughout the Bay Area.
“Most importantly, he was a cherished and dedicated husband to his wife of 23 years. His recent suffering from [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] symptoms cannot extinguish the breadth and depth of his impact on us and others and we are forever grateful for the time we have had with him. It is our hope that through further research we can gain more knowledge surrounding CTE.”
The 49ers also released a statement on Clark, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area:
Clark took the field for the 49ers from the 1997-2000 seasons, catching 92 passes for 909 yards and four touchdowns. He was used primarily as a blocking tight end, and the 49ers notably finished sixth or higher in the NFL in scoring three of his four campaigns.
He missed the entire 2001 season with hamstring injuries before being waived the following year.
His finest moment on the football field occurred in the 1998 NFC Wild Card Game against the back-to-back defending NFC champion Green Bay Packers. The ex-Stanford star caught two touchdown passes to help the 49ers beat the Packers 30-27.
He also played through tremendous pain, including taking the field against the Minnesota Vikings in 1999 with five cracked ribs and a punctured lung. Clark recounted the day with Matt Barrows of The Athletic in Sept. 2020.
As Clark’s family also noted, the tight end suffered from CTE. Per a Journal of the American Medical Association article from July 2017, 99 percent of brains obtained from former NFL players showed signs of CTE.
The league reached a $1 billion settlement with former players who claimed, per the settlement’s official website, that the league was “aware of the evidence and the risks associated with repetitive traumatic brain injuries” but neglected “to warn and protect players against those long-term risks and ignoring and concealing this information from players.”
Condolences and remembrances poured in after news of Clark’s passing.
“He was a phenomenal human being, with a burgeoning family, and I just feel terrible that the suffering he must have felt,” Pro Football Hall of Famer and ex-49ers quarterback Steve Young told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group.
He added: “Greg was a great player. He was tough. A great teammate and a great 49er. And he’s gone way too early. It’s just devastating.”
Maiocco tweeted his condolences and remembrances too.
“Greg Clark … was a great guy to work with in my early years covering the 49ers,” Maiocco wrote. “I’d run into him from time to time in the East Bay, and he was always friendly, funny and kind. Thinking of his family and all whose lives he touched.”
Clark’s ex-agent, Steve Baker, also provided a few words to Inman.
“Greg was an incredible person who touched everyone I’ve ever seen him meet,” he said. “He literally filled any room he was ever in with both warmth and integrity.”
Ex-Stanford quarterback Todd Husak, who was Clark’s teammate with the Cardinal in 1995 and 1996, also provided comments:
Todd Husak @ToddHusak
So sad to lose a former teammate and a great man in Greg Clark. Anyone
who needs help, it’s out there. Please reach out to loved ones and let them know you care pic.twitter.com/4JfkQfxhMX
Husak referenced remarks made by Clark’s brother, Taylor, that were made on Facebook:
“Our hearts are broken. Superman, as our family knew him, passed away Wednesday afternoon. Our big brother, Greg Clark, was larger than life in physique and personality. He always lived big and thrived on the bold. To know him was to love him. He was loved so much by everyone that knew him. He will be missed profoundly.
“As one of his friends puts it, ‘Greg was like knowing a living superhero that was also honest with his humanness.’
“Our family is drawing comfort at this time in the reality of eternal families, knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ and His power to save, heal and compensate for every sorrow. Rest In Peace Dear Brother, until we meet again!”
The 49ers selected the former Stanford star with a third-round pick in the 1997 draft.