SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — About 1,500 die-hard San Francisco 49ers fans didn’t have to wait for Saturday’s playoff game against the New Orleans Saints to get their football fix.

Instead, they paid to watch Tuesday night as some of the greatest legends of the old football era – Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Dwight Clark, and Roger Craig – came together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 49ers’ biggest play: ‘The Catch.’

It refers to the winning touchdown reception by Clark off a Montana pass in the January 10, 1982, NFC Championship Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. That game was a precursor to the first of San Francisco’s six Super Bowl championships.

“The catch happened right in the end zone where our season tickets were,” recalled fan Mike Short, a longtime member of the 49ers faithful and a witness to the event. “It’s one of the most incredible things that ever happened in my life.”

As this year’s 49ers team prepares for the playoffs, players from the 1980s dynasty team shared their personal memories and experiences of what is undoubtedly one of the most memorable plays in NFL history.

San Francisco faced third-and-three with 58 seconds remaining and Montana deep rolled to his right with three Dallas defenders in his face. Montana fired the ball and Clark leaped and made ‘The Catch’ in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

Clark and Montana recalled for the audience of fans how then-coach Bill Walsh had made them rehearse the play over and over again, often with ugly results.

“Joe never got it right,” Clark said. “He’d throw it too low or way over my head… It was only under duress, with three people in his face and throwing off his back foot — the magic of Joe Montana — that he put it in the exact right spot.”

(Copyright 2011 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

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