Niners assistant coach Katie Sowers publicly came out Tuesday, making her the first openly LGBT coach not only in the NFL but all of men’s professional sports.
The 31-year-old is also just the second woman to become a full-time coach in the league, after Kathryn Smith was on the Bills’ staff last season.
“No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are,” Sowers, a lesbian, told Outsports. “There are so many people who identify as LGBT in the NFL, as in any business, that do not feel comfortable being public about their sexual orientation.
“The more we can create an environment that welcomes all types of people, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, the more we can help ease the pain and burden that many carry every day.”
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Sowers, who played in the Women’s Football Alliance, started as a scouting intern for the Falcons in 2016 and built a rapport with then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. When Shanahan was hired to become San Francisco’s head coach this season, he added Sowers as an intern over the summer and then brought her on full time.
“She did a really good job for us in Atlanta,” Shanahan told the San Jose Mercury News earlier this month. “She’s done a real good job here. She helps [wide receivers coach/passing game specialist] Mike LaFleur out just with some rotations. She helps our quality controls with all the stuff they have to do. She’s a hard worker. You don’t even notice her because she just goes to work and does what’s asked and because of that she’s someone we would like to keep around.”
Sowers also thanked Falcons assistant GM and mentor Scott Pioli on Facebook for giving her a chance last season, for his “passion for equal opportunity” and “opening doors and for breaking down walls in the NFL.”
She said she will serve as an offensive assistant this season.
“The most fulfilling aspect is having the ability to impact the lives of these young men chasing their dream of playing in the NFL, as well as serve as a role model for young girls who might happen to see me following my passion,” she wrote in an e-mail to Outsports. “I am a strong believer that the more we can expose children to a variety of different opportunities in life, the better chance they have of finding their true calling.”
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