49ers Assistant Katie Sowers Becomes 1st Openly Gay Coach in NFL History

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2017

San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers, left, talks with a fellow coach before a preseason NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

Katie Sowers, a San Francisco 49ers assistant who became the NFL's second full-time female coach earlier this month, will also be the league's first openly gay coach. 

"No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are," Sowers told Jim Buzinski of SB Nation's Outsports in an interview that ran Tuesday. "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."

She is the first openly gay coach in any men's professional sport in the United States. Her work with the 49ers began over the summer as an intern who helped coach the wide receivers. Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers' head coach, had familiarity with her after she worked with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016, where he was the offensive coordinator.

“We were in Atlanta, and people asked, ‘Why did you want to bring a girl here?’ I didn’t even look at it that way,” Shanahan told Cam Inman of the Mercury News. “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. 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.”

Sowers said she believes an openly gay male coach would also be accepted, and that she has run into no obstacles since disclosing her orientation.

"I do believe that an openly gay male coach would be accepted just like anyone else," Sowers said. "What most people need to remember is that the NFL is a place of work for these players and it is a job that provides for their families. They are professionals and what you will find is they act like professionals in everything they do."

She added that she hopes she can be a role model for young women who hope to work in the NFL.