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Katie Sowers: ‘The 49ers didn’t hire me as a coach to make a point’

Katie Sowers: ‘The 49ers didn’t hire me as a coach to make a point’

Photograph: Gary Landers/AP

omnipresent Microsoft commercial featuring an emerging 49ers coach to appear. The spot’s central figure is not head coach Kyle Shanahan, whose offensive wizardry has San Francisco one win away from a Super Bowl berth. Nor is it fiery defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, whose sideline antics have become social media fodder this season.’ data-reactid=”26″>Turn on any American network television show these days – be it a sporting event or The Bachelor – and it won’t take long for an omnipresent Microsoft commercial featuring an emerging 49ers coach to appear. The spot’s central figure is not head coach Kyle Shanahan, whose offensive wizardry has San Francisco one win away from a Super Bowl berth. Nor is it fiery defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, whose sideline antics have become social media fodder this season.

The coach is Katie Sowers, a third-year offensive assistant who works predominantly with the wide receivers. She stoically declares in the commercial, “I’m not here to be the token female. I’m here to help us win.” Sowers has helped the 49ers collect those wins in droves this season but she’s also a revelation whose rise is impossible to ignore.

Katie Sowers chats with 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo before the team’s playoff victory over the Vikings this month. Photograph: Michael Zagaris/Getty Images‘ data-reactid=”52″>

Katie Sowers chats with 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo before the team’s playoff victory over the Vikings this month. Photograph: Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

Kathryn Smith, a quality control coach with Buffalo in 2016 and Lee Brandon, a strength and conditioning coach with the Jets in 1990.’ data-reactid=”65″>That fall Sowers was offered a position as an offensive assistant and became the NFL’s third full-time female coach, taking the baton from Kathryn Smith, a quality control coach with Buffalo in 2016 and Lee Brandon, a strength and conditioning coach with the Jets in 1990.

Sowers’ initially shied away from the spotlight, opting instead to hunker down and perfect the playbook. Along the way she built a deep camaraderie with her players, treading a careful line between mentor and friend. By day she might bark at a player, by night she might be his karaoke partner. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was asked about Sowers last week and applauded her importance to the receiving group.

Lo Locust as an assistant defensive-line coach and Maral Javadifar as a strength and conditioning coach.’ data-reactid=”71″>Thanks in large part to this special event, there are currently eight female coaches in the NFL. At this year’s forum, Tampa head coach Bruce Arians declared he was going to hire a full-time female coach, citing his desire for a diverse staff. Two months later he doubled down, hiring Coach Lo Locust as an assistant defensive-line coach and Maral Javadifar as a strength and conditioning coach.

“They’re good fits for what we need,” Arians told reporters. “The fact that their gender’s different – who gives a shit”

Bills coach Sean McDermott soon followed suit, bringing on former Dartmouth football coach Callie Bronson as a full-time offensive assistant.

The case for female coaches will only grow stronger if Sowers is soon sporting a Super Bowl ring. Then perhaps we’ll be nearer to an NFL where we dispense with the moniker “female coach” and just say “coach”.