When the San Francisco 49ers hired Katie Sowers as an offensive assistant, the Bay Area favorite became known as one of the more forward-thinking teams in the NFL. After all, she is the second full-time female coach to be employed in the league, and she is the first openly gay coach.
While Sowers' journey into the NFL has inspired others to believe that the could also achieve these goals, it did not come without a fair share of struggles. As she explained during an interview on Fair Game with Kristine Leahy, there were actually some teams that weren't on board with bringing her into the coaching fold. In fact, one unnamed executive told Sowers that his team was not ready to hire a female coach.
"They felt the 49ers because they knew how it was to have a woman on staff, that it'd be a better fit for me — that their organization was not yet ready to have a woman on staff," Sowers said, according to USA Today. "[The unnamed team executive] went on to say that one of the coaches came up to him and said, 'Where are we going to put her desk? 'He said, 'Where we put everyone else's desk.' But that was another indicator to him that this organization is far from being ready."
.@49ers Offensive Assistant Coach Katie Sowers in the epitome of progress:December 21, 2018
Ultimately, Sowers was hired by the 49ers, reuniting her with head coach Kyle Shanahan. Back when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons (2016), Sowers worked with him as an intern. She was later hired as a wide receivers coach on a full-time basis in San Francisco.
While being rejected by the unnamed team executive was not easy for Sowers, she is grateful that the incident occurred. In her opinion, being told bluntly that a team wasn't ready to hire a female coach is better than having the executive beat around the bush and avoid telling her the truth.0comments
"Although I hated hearing that, I loved the honesty," Sowers said. "Because it meant that the words that he was saying was coming from the foundation of ignorance of the organization. But he understood the ignorance. Oftentimes we get caught up in what's politically correct and hearing all these words that make us feel better, when often it could be lies. I'd rather hear the truth and ignorance. That's where we create change."
To her point, the San Francisco 49ers and Kyle Shanahan are trying to create change in the NFL. They are joined in this pursuit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, who hired two full-time female assistant coaches this offseason. As he explained to NFL Media, Arians believes that it's time for these hirings to take place, and he will "be happy when it's not news anymore."