For the second time in NFL history, a woman will be on a team’s coaching staff through the regular season.
Katie Sowers, who was coaching wide receivers during an internship with the San Francisco 49ers, was extended to a full-time role for this season by the team. She is the second full-time female assistant in NFL history. Kathryn Smith was a special teams quality control coach with the Buffalo Bills last season (she wasn’t retained for this season after the Bills had an offseason coaching change).
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan explained that Sowers did such a good job during her internship, the team wanted to keep her after her internship was over. Simple as that.
“She came in and worked with the receivers and did as good of a job as anyone I’ve had in the internship,” Shanahan said, according to CSN Bay Area. “We loved having her around. She was eager to learn it, she has played professional football in a women’s league in the United States for a while and she’s passionate about it.”
With Jen Welter, who was an assistant coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015, Smith last year and Bowers this season, a common refrain was that players respect any coach who can help them get better.
“Katie is a baller. One-hundred percent,” 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin said on KNBR 680’s “Murph & Mac Show,” according to CSN Bay Area. “She understands the game. She is very familiar with the game. She played in a women’s league.
“It may be a little different, but she definitely has the attitude that it takes to be in that room. She brings a great vibe and she understands. I’m happy that she’s on staff.”
Sowers shared the news on her Facebook page, with a positive message for anyone. She said believing in yourself is only part of chasing a dream, but also “dreams are achieved by first finding someone who sees your worth and value, regardless of your gender, and takes the necessary steps to clear a path, even on the path less traveled.” For Sowers, that someone was Scott Pioli, a longtime NFL executive who is now the assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons. Sowers had an internship with the Falcons last season. Atlanta’s offensive coordinator was Shanahan.
Sowers being hired is a positive step for women in the NFL. Perhaps we’re not too far from a female coordinator, and then perhaps at some point a female head coach. That sounds like a big step, but a few years ago many probably wondered if we’d see someone like Sowers or Smith reach the heights they have in the NFL coaching profession.
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