How 49ers pioneer Katie Sowers views her historic Super Bowl debut


MIAMI, Fla. -- When the 49ers take the field Sunday in Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs, history will be made. 

49ers offensive analyst Katie Sowers will become the first woman and first openly gay coach ever to coach in the Super Bowl. A historic moment that isn't lost on her, but she knows her barrier-breaking moment only matters if progress continues to be made. 

"Being the first, it is historic," Sowers told NFL Network on Monday at Super Bowl Opening Night. "I mean there always has to be a first to make change. But the most important thing that I continue to say is to make sure I'm not the last."

Sowers first linked up with coach Kyle Shanahan on an internship in 2016 while Shanahan was with the Falcons and he brought her onto his staff when he took the 49ers' job in 2017. Shanahan's belief in Sowers has led her to history's doorstep.

"I think I allowed him to see who I am, what my dreams were, what my goals were and he truly believed in diversity within the NFL and he was happy to help me, which I am so grateful for. He truly became a mentor, taught me the culture and really led me to where I am." 

Cornerback Richard Sherman is aware of the history Sowers is about to make. He believes the 49ers employing Sowers shows the organization has the right mindset when hiring staff. 

"I think it's something that I notice and I care about but I don't try to over acknowledge it because it should be that way," Sherman said Monday. "So if you treat it like a norm then you can't try to treat it any different because it should be how it is everywhere. It should be about who does the job the best. Not if you're a man, a woman; if you're black, white, orange, pink yellow. Whatever it is. It's about who can do the job the best and that's what I think I appreciate about the 49ers' organization is all they care about is who can do the job at the highest level, effectively and they don't care about the race or gender or any of the rest of it." 

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Sowers works primarily with the wide receivers, and young pass-catchers like Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne has shown great growth during the season. 

For Sowers, she helps them by using something legendary coach Bill Walsh believed was imperative to foster growth. 

"I believed in them," Sowers said of her work with the wide receivers. "Bill Walsh used to always say, 'the most important thing you can tell someone is I believe in you.' And that's what I continue to reiterate to my players. It's amazing the growth that happens when you just tell them, 'I believe in you.'"

Sowers has great belief in her players, as they do in her. Sunday they'll make history. Together. 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.

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