Katie Sowers’ pioneering tenure with the 49ers is done after four seasons, she told this news organization Thursday morning.
Sowers served as the franchise’s first female assistant coach and the NFL’s first openly gay coach.
“I will sadly not be back,” Sowers confirmed in a text message, without further comment.
Sowers’ contact expired and she will now explore other opportunities for a chance at an expanded role. As an offensive assistant, Sowers generally worked with the 49ers’ wide receivers under position coach, Wes Welker.
The 49ers had no comment, as has been their protocol regarding assistants leaving under Kyle Shanahan since 2017.
Sowers, 34, initially joined the 49ers as a 2017 summer intern in the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Once that internship ended after the 49ers’ exhibition in her native Kansas City, she was retained as a full-time coach.
“I’m going to miss you SF. Let’s see what 2021 has in store,” Sowers captioned a picture of Levi’s Stadium’s façade in an Instagram story Wednesday night.
Sowers came to the 49ers after interning with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons. She followed the NFL leads of Jen Welter (Arizona Cardinals intern) and Kathryn Smith (Buffalo Bills special teams assistant).
In an Instagram post Thursday, Sowers wrote: “I think it’s important to understand that the path you were meant to take is more often than not … the path that was least expected … but that is the beauty in your story and YOU will always control the narrative.”
Sowers became the first female to coach in a Super Bowl last season. She has taken part in forums and spoken up for equality, and she’s received multiple honors in recent years, including being named Outsports 2020 Person of the Year last week.
“This has been a year full of ups and downs,” Sowers told Outsports.com. “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.’ ”
Coach Kyle Shanahan’s staff figures to undergo more changes, especially if defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is hired as a coach by one of the five teams pursuing him.