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#WeKeepPlaying: 49ers' Katie Sowers recalls Super Bowl loss, focuses on NFL draft and the future

Gary Mondello
·4 min read
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It has been more than two months since the 49ers’ 31-20 Super Bowl LIV loss to the Chiefs, which has given San Francisco offensive assistant Katie Sowers — the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl — some time to reflect.

“What an experience,” Sowers said Saturday during the #WeKeepPlaying event on Yahoo Sports. “From the highest high to the lowest low, it was something that I will remember forever.

“But I know with anything in life, any obstacle we face, it’s part of our story. And I know that it’s not the end of my story and it’s not the end of my players’ story. ... It’s part of our path. It’s part of our journey. And so it’s something you deal with and you move forward.”

For Sowers, San Francisco and the rest of the country, moving forward hasn’t been easy due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sowers and the 49ers are in the process of getting ready for the “virtual” NFL draft, which will be held April 23-25.

Sowers said Saturday that this is a time when you’ll see the NFL teams with top-notch leadership.

“We’re lucky to have amazing leaders with [general manager] John Lynch, with [head coach] Kyle Shanahan,” Sowers said. “It’s been quite the experience doing everything remotely, everything looking at a computer screen and seeing all of your co-workers on that screen as everyone I am sure can relate.”

While doing everything remotely is a challenge, Sowers said you have to have some fun with it.

“You have your fun with it, with the virtual backgrounds. I had some ‘Tiger King’ up for a little bit. It was pretty great,” Sowers said.

“You have fun with it because at the end of the day ... there’s only one thing in our life that we can control and that’s our attitude. That’s the only thing we will carry with us. So we create our narrative. We tell ourselves that this narrative is just a part of our story, I think we will find ourselves headed toward success a little bit more than if we sound a little bit more negatively.”

Sowers’ words impressed tennis icon Billie Jean King, who was part of Saturday’s event along with Carli Lloyd (soccer), Katie Ledecky (swimming), Chiney Ogwumike (basketball), Kendall Coyne Schofield (hockey), Scout Bassett (paralympian in track and field), Sabrina Ionescu (basketball) and Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State). The event was hosted by journalist Cari Champion.

“She just encouraged me,” King said of Sowers. “It’s not failure. Everything’s feedback. It makes you better. I just want to congratulate you, Katie. We need people like you so we can see it to believe. You have been such an inspiration to so many people.”

49ers offensive assistant Katie Sowers talks with players before Super Bowl LIV. (Mark Humphrey/AP)
49ers offensive assistant Katie Sowers talks with players before Super Bowl LIV. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

Sowers’ path to NFL history

Sowers said “as early as I remember” she started playing football.

“We loved to beat up on the boys,” she said.

Sowers spent eight years playing in a women’s tackle football league. In 2014, she took note of Becky Hammon making NBA history as that league’s first female coach.

“All of a sudden, it hit me,” Sowers said. “I can do this.”

So she sent out a message via social media.

“Little did I know that that was actually gonna happen,” said Sowers, who has been with the 49ers since 2017.

Now that it has, the 33-year-old Sowers wants to pass on her message to the younger generation.

“Me, personally, I always just loved football so to prove not only to myself but to everybody that you can love something, and regardless of what society says is normal, you can reach for it,” Sowers said “The more that I can show that to younger generations, not just young girls but young boys, that’s my why. That’s what keeps me going.

“It’s not how women lead men. It’s not how men lead women. It’s how we lead people.”

And she hopes that becomes the norm in the future.

“I think the future for women’s sports is that one day a woman will be hired as a coach of a men’s professional team, and it will not be a headline,” Sowers said. “The kids growing up today will wonder why we ever even talked about this.”

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