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Who is Katie Sowers? What you need to know about the historic 49ers assistant coach

Katie Sowers will make Super Bowl history with the San Francisco 49ers. Here’s what you need to know.

Katie Sowers at a San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl practice.
Katie Sowers at a 49ers Super Bowl practice.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

San Francisco offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers made history Sunday in Super Bowl LIV between the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.

She was the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl

Sowers is not the first female coach in the NFL. That honor goes to Jen Welter, who was with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. Sowers, though, is the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl.

“I feel like a broken record, but what I want to continue to say is that even though I’m the first, the most important thing is I’m not the last and we continue to grow it,” Sowers said.

She was the first openly gay coach in a Super Bowl

Note the word “openly” here. There have been other coaches who would identify as gay or bi in the past, but Sowers is the first to come out publicly.

“I do believe that an openly gay male coach would be accepted just like anyone else,” Sowers told Outsports in 2017. “ 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.

“One thing that you need to do in any team sport is adapt to people who might be different than you and respect them as your family. Who a coach loves has no impact on the way they coach football and if they are unable to make that adjustment, they will have a hard time in any job or team they are a part of.”

She was raised in Kansas City Chiefs country

Sowers, 33, was born and raised in Hesston, Kansas, a small Mennonite community near Wichita. She has wanted to play football from as young as 8, when she wrote a letter about her love of the sport. “My mom wants me to play basketball. I don’t want to. I want to play football,” she wrote. “My favorite part of football is tackling.”

People in Hesston were rooting for the hometown girl but also for their Chiefs, making their first Super Bowl in 50 years. “I’ll be cheering for the same team [former 49ers and Chiefs quarterback] Joe Montana said he’s cheering for,” one resident told the AP with a smile. “The red team.”

Both Katie Sowers and her twin sister Liz played pro football in the Women’s Football Alliance.

She has a football-playing twin sister

Liz and Katie Sowers grew up together with a love of sports and played football together with the Women’s Football Alliance. Liz Sowers is helping organize a new team — the Kansas City Glory — in a new pro football league.

“I was asked once if it was a dream of mine to be in the NFL or be in a Super Bowl,” Liz told KCUR, an NPR affiliate in Kansas City, “and looking back it was like, no, it never crossed my mind. And it’s crazy for me to think as much as I loved playing and it was our favorite sport, I never thought that was an option to somehow be in a Super Bowl. And it pushes me to continue doing and playing football.

“When Katie is walking down the sideline,” Liz adds with pride, “she’ll have parents shouting that their daughter wants to coach in the NFL, or play in the NFL, and that dream is real now for people, for young girls.”

She once returned three interceptions for touchdowns in a playoff game

Yep, it happened in 2013 against Germany in the Women’s Football Alliance semifinals. She had five interceptions total and was named MVP for Team USA. “To wear the red, white, and blue was unbelievable,” Sowers said. “It really showed me that coaches are able to care about a person and teach them a game plan. And without that first part, you won’t be successful.”

She has been part of a Super Bowl team before

In 2016, Sowers was a scouting intern with the Atlanta Falcons, who played in that season’s Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. She was brought to Atlanta by then-assistant general manager Scott Pioli. She came to his attention when she coached the fifth-grade basketball team where Pioli’s daughter was a player.

“It’s funny. When we met, she was coaching my daughter and other friends’ daughters, she wore me out,” Pioli told KCUR. “After practice, after games, she was asking me about football... I certainly wasn’t thinking ahead to that she would be coaching in the NFL someday.”

It was also in Atlanta where Sowers met Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who brought her to the 49ers as an offensive assistant. She was initially a summer intern, but got the coaching job after impressing passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur. “Katie’s helped me so much,” LaFleur recalled telling Shanahan. “Is there any way we can just keep her here?”

Her players love having her

“She been tremendous,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said of Sowers. “Katie was here before I was, but just what she does with the receivers, all the skill positions guys, how she interacts with them. It’s special. She’s feisty, man. Katie is awesome out there. She’ll get after guys… It’s fun to be around.”

“Katie’s been phenomenal,” All-Pro fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “She’s someone we’ve been able to lean on. If I ever have a question on a route or something, no hesitation and I can go talk to her. She’s a phenomenal asset to our team.”

“She’s one of the coolest coaches I’ve ever had,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “I like being around her. Just how she goes about her business and how positive she is.”

She has a girlfriend

We don’t know the name of Sowers’ girlfriend, but she regularly posts photos of the two of them on Instagram and last year detailed a beautiful letter her girlfriend’s grandmother wrote to her about her relationship with a woman.

She has higher ambitions

Sowers is confident she could succeed as an NFL head coach. “Wherever I can impact the game, I will continue to work and to be the best I can be and if that opportunity comes up, and that’s where I truly be a game-changer, that’s the step I’ll take,” she said.