Katie Sowers – the NFL’s first openly gay female coach – is to leave the San Francisco 49ers after spending four years with the organisation.
She became the first female to coach in the Super Bowl when the 49ers finished runners up to the Kansas City Chiefs in February last year and worked closely with wide receivers coach Wes Welker.
Sowers generated a big following after becoming just the second woman to work as a full-time assistant coach in the NFL, following Kathryn Smith, who was a special teams assistant in Buffalo in 2016.
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While the team is still to officially confirm her departure, Sowers posted on Instagram: “I think it’s important to understand that the path you were meant to take is more often than not… the path that was least expected… but that is the beauty in your story and YOU will always control the narrative.”
Assistant offensive coach Sowers, who played in the Women’s Football Alliance and for USA Footballs national team, got her start in the NFL in 2016 with Atlanta through a Diversity Coaching programme when Kyle Shanahan was offensive coordinator for the Falcons.
She followed Shanahan to San Francisco the following season and was hired as a full-time assistant in 2018, working extensively with the team’s wide receivers.
Katie Sowers opens up about being NFL trailblazer
Speaking of the ground-breaking nature of her role in Super Bowl LIV, Sowers said: “Being the first [woman], it is historic. There always has to be a first to make a change but the most important thing is just to make sure I’m not the last.
“I allowed him [Shanahan] to see who I am, what my dreams and goals were and he truly believed in diversity within the NFL.
“He was happy to help me, which I am so grateful for. He truly became a mentor, taught me the culture, and really led me to where I am.”
Sowers has in turn shown that faith and confidence in the players she coaches, most notably the 49ers wide receivers.
“I believed in them and that’s the most important you can tell someone – I believe in you,” she added.
“That’s what I continue to reiterate to my players because it’s amazing the growth that happens when you just tell them: ‘I believe in you’.”
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