Katie Sowers, the first female coach in 49ers history, is expected to remain on staff through the season after completing her internship Friday.
A season-long position on Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff would make her only the second full-time female assistant in NFL history, although details have yet to be finalized about her pending role.
Last year, the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as their special teams quality control coach, and she was not retained by Sean McDermott after a coaching change this past offseason.
The 49ers declined to confirm Sowers’ status when reached for comment Saturday night.
Sowers shared the news of her season-long appointment on her Facebook page. She emphasized how grateful she was to Atlanta Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli for helping open her door into the NFL as an intern last summer with the Falcons, whose offensive coordinator was Kyle Shanahan, now the 49ers coach and Sowers’ boss.
“It’s groundbreaking and all that stuff, but the more normalized it is, the better it is,” Sowers, 31, told this newspaper last week about her then-role with the 49ers. “As a female, the more someone can ask me what I do and I say ‘I coach football,’ the less shock on their faces will mean the better direction we’re moving.”
As part of the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship, Sowers has worked with the 49ers wide receivers under passing game specialist Mike LaFleur, and it’s unclear if she will resume those duties or take on a generalized role.
“I’ve had coaching experiences in the past where the older generation, they don’t want to cuss around me,” Sowers added. “But that’s working it’s way out. Everybody realizes, ‘She’s a coach. She’s not a woman sitting here. We’re all coaches.’ ”
Shanahan welcomed Sowers’ request to intern on his first staff as 49ers coach this summer.
“We were in Atlanta, and people asked, ‘Why did you want to bring a girl here?’ I didn’t even look at it that why,” Shanahan told this newspaper earlier this month. “She helped us there and asked if she could do the same thing here.
“Because of what she did in Atlanta, we’d love her to be here,” Shanahan added. “She helps out. She’s good in the room. It helps her because she learns, too. But I like hearing Katie’s opinion. She does a good job for us.”
Several players and 49ers ownership also have been impressed by Sowers, who grew up in Hesston, Kansas, and played professional football up until last year. She’s served both as an adviser for USA Football and as general manager of Kansas City Titans in the Women’s Football Alliance, where her twin sister, Liz, is a star receiver. Their father, Floyd, coached Bethel College’s women’s basketball team.
The NFL has over 50 women working in teams’ football operations, and the 49ers are represented from their business office (Hannah Gordon, Patti Inglis) to training staff (Laura Schnettgoecke). The 49ers, co-owned by Denise DeBartolo York, have a fellowship named in her honor that introduces a female to the franchise’s various departments.
The 49ers did not go out of their way to hype Sowers’ initial arrival, simply listing her brief bio among the seven other interns in alphabetical order when they were announced in June. In other words, this was a coaching move more than any marketing or public relations effort.
“Katie called me personally and asked (for an internship),” Shanahan said. “Since I saw how she worked and she was good, we got her here. I don’t know if anyone (in 49ers heirarchy) knew until they saw it” on the press release announcing interns.
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