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Pioneering coach Katie Sowers parts ways with 49ers

Trailblazing assistant coach Katie Sowers will not return to the San Francisco 49ers for the 2021 season.

“I will sadly not be back,” Sowers wrote in a text message to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury. She didn’t give a reason, but Inman reported that her contract expired and she will now pursue other opportunities.

Sowers, the 49ers’ first female coach and the first openly gay coach in NFL history, joined head coach Kyle Shanahan's staff as an intern in 2017 as part of the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. The Niners later retained her as a full-time coach, and she normally worked with the team’s wide receivers as an assistant.

In February 2020, Sowers became the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl when the Niners faced the Kansas City Chiefs.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during warmups prior to Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Coach Katie Sowers has parted ways with the 49ers. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Sowers will continue to be an advocate

Sowers is a pioneer for female and LGBTQ+ coaches, and hasn’t been shy speaking up about her personal journey. She has advocated for women in sports and has spoken up in favor of Black Lives Matter and transgender rights. She was recently named one of Outsports’ People of the Year, and despite a roller coaster 2020, she’s dedicated to speaking up for change and equality.


“This has been a year full of ups and downs,” Sowers told Outsports. “From going to the Super Bowl, to the pandemic, and to losing my dad — this award has been a reminder that we all have the ability to make a difference regardless of the circumstance and I am honored to know that I join a list of such amazing ‘agents of change.’

“I believe 2020 helped teach me a lot of things. It helped to reiterate that being visible doesn’t mean just visible through the good times, but visible through the bad as well. 2020 has been a difficult year for so many and it’s important that we do what we can to let people know they are not alone.”

Sowers hasn’t publicly announced the end of her time with the Niners on social media, but in a story posted to her Instagram on Wednesday night, she captioned a picture of Levi’s Stadium with “I’m going to miss you SF. Let’s see what 2021 has in store.” Sowers also posted a picture of herself on the Niners’ sideline Thursday, along with a quote about the future being unexpected.

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