49ers brotherhood, community shines at Dwight Clark Legacy Series

NBC Universal, Inc.

SAN JOSE -- You'd be hard-pressed to find many organizations in all of professional sports with a richer history and stronger community than the 49ers.

It was on full display yet again at the annual Dwight Clark Legacy Series event on Thursday night at the California Theater in San Jose.

Players past and present showed out to support a great cause and raise money for The Golden Heart Fund, including Pro Football Hall of Fame alumni and current 49ers superstars.

Here are three observations from the fourth annual event:

The inseparable LB duo

Linebacker Dre Greenlaw was the recipient of the Dwight Clark Award, which "honors the current 49ers player who best exemplifies Dwight’s spirit of teamwork and camaraderie."

Before Greenlaw took the stage, he was introduced by fellow 49ers linebacker and close friend Fred Warner. The duo has become one of, if not the best linebacking tandem in the NFL partly due to their inseparable bond on and off the field.

Warner and Greenlaw are the closest of friends and train together throughout each offseason. However, this summer will be different. Greenlaw is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and is expected to begin the 2024 NFL season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

However, there is little doubt that Greenlaw won't attack his rehab with the same tenacity and vigor that Warner has grown accustomed to.

"On the field, he's a little bit crazy ... That's what makes him so great, there's a little something off about him," Warner said of Greenlaw to NBC Sports Bay Area's Laura Britt.

Generations of QBs with different paths

The final hour-plus of the event featured a panel of four 49ers quarterbacks, spanning four different generations, each having their own unique place in franchise history.

From left to right, Brock Purdy, Alex Smith, Jeff Garcia and Steve Young sat on stage with NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. The final pick of the 2022 NFL draft sat next to the very first pick of the 2005 draft, who sat next to an undrafted Canadian Football League player, who sat next to the first overall pick of the 1984 supplemental draft.

Purdy and Smith seated next to each other offered an especially interesting juxtaposition. One with absolutely zero expectations heading into his rookie season while the other, admittedly, felt the weight of the world on his shoulders right out the gate.

Each quarterback shared interesting stories from their respective careers, highlighting just how difficult it is to play in the NFL and how much hard work, dedication and grit is required to overcome all obstacles as either a first-round pick, seventh-round pick, or an undrafted player altogether.

49ers alumni always show out

It's impossible to attend a 49ers event without at least a handful of prominent players -- past or present -- there representing the organization.

Whether it's the Dwight Clark Legacy Series and the State of the Franchise events, any of the other charity gatherings, or perhaps just a game day or practice at Levi's Stadium, 49ers alumni like Young, Garcia, Smith, Jerry Rice, Patrick Willis, Frank Gore, Joe Staley, Bryant Young, Terrell Ownes, Ronnie Lott, Brent Jones and Jesse Sapolu -- just to name a few -- frequently are spotted around the team in some capacity.

That not only is a testament to the culture the 49ers organization has created throughout decades of excellence but also to the players' unwavering support for the team and the community.

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