Former 49ers tight end Greg Clark dies at 49

PHOTO BY JIM GENSHEIMER FOR SPORTS. 12/17/00. --NINERS/BEARS-- Niners 85  Greg Clark celebrates a first quarter touchdown.
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Greg Clark, who played tight end for the 49ers for five seasons, has died at the age of 49.

Clark’s cause of death has not been reported. His family released a statement indicating that they would participate in brain research to determine whether he had CTE.

Recruited to Stanford by Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, Clark was an impressive blocker in college who proved to be a better receiver and athlete than NFL teams expected with his performances in the Shrine Game and at pre-draft workouts. The 49ers traded up in the third round to take Clark in the 1997 NFL draft.

Known for his toughness, Clark played through injuries including broken ribs, and in one game in Minnesota he played even though a member of the 49ers’ medical staff punctured his lung while injecting his ribs with a painkiller before the game. Clark recalled last year how he was rushed to the hospital immediately after the game.

It was like an ER show you see on TV,” Clark told Matt Maiocco of “You have 12 people around. Everyone is chaotic. They’re cutting off your jersey and everything. There’s not time for an anesthetic, so they’re getting out the scalpel and cutting. You have a bunch of people on one side of you holding you while another guy has a big ol’ pair of pliers and is trying to bust it through the side of your ribs through the cartilage and all that muscle. And he couldn’t get through. He was just shaking. You know how you can see a guy’s eyes and know that he’s panicked? I’m screaming. I was swearing like a sailor. It hurt so bad.”

In retirement Clark worked in the real estate business.

16 responses to “Former 49ers tight end Greg Clark dies at 49

  1. I had a collapsed lung and when they punched through the side of my ribcage to reinflate it the pain was beyond agonizing as well as the pain I was suffering before i got to the hospital.

    That he played a game like that is crazy. One tough human being

  2. Dead at 49. What a shame. Collectively, we all love our NFL players and wish them all our best after their careers are over. To have such a short life is such a shame. May this warrior rest in peace. Everyone of us loves you.

  3. You’ve got to be a really special type to give a thumbs down to messages of condolence.

  4. This is why no matter what, I always back the players.

    It’s their league. The owners just get in the way.

  5. Terrible news. Rest In Peace, Greg. Please take the time to read about CTE. To get some ideas on how people like this can get help please google ‘Sports Illustrated CTE Gary Plummer Gets His Mind Right’

  6. All the crap that was injected into his body by NFL “doctors” during his career is probably responsible for this…..

  7. I am saddened by his death.

    I remember how talented he was and thought he was going to be a special player. He was just always injured.

  8. Playing a whole game with a punctured lung. That is legendary old school football stuff. Much like Jack Youngblood playing the whole 1979 playoffs,Super Bowl and Pro Bowl with a fractured fibula. His explanation of why he did it is classic.

    “I was the captain,” Youngblood said matter-of-factly. “I was the leader of the football team, and I was going to do everything I possibly could within my power and ability to go on that field and to lead my guys and to try and win a football game.

    “It wasn’t about the pain. There’s pain in every snap, just about. It was about the leadership aspect, and what my responsibility was.”

  9. boogiewstu says:
    July 10, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    No one is downvoting someone’s death.
    Just your platitudes.

    Finally. Someone who gets it.

  10. The fact that his family so soon aftér his death at a relatively young age is donating his brain for CTE research tells me there were issues they saw with him in their private lives we are not privy to. Cause of death was not provided but based on the request from the family it may be CTE related.

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