Earlier this year, Katie Sowers became the second full-time female coach in the NFL after the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as a special teams quality control coach in January 2016.

49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers news

This week, Sowers — whom the San Francisco 49ers promoted from intern to offensive assistant coach earlier this month — made history by becoming the first openly LGBT coach in the league.

Sowers, 31, revealed in an interview with Outsports.com on Tuesday that she is openly gay, and added that she hopes her coming out will help encourage other members of the league who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to do the same without fear of backlash.

“No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are,” Sowers told Jim Buzinski of Outsports.com. “There are so many people who identify as LGBT in the NFL, as in any business, that do not feel comfortable being public about their sexual orientation.

“The more we can create an environment that welcomes all types of people, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, the more we can help ease the pain and burden that many carry every day.”

Sowers came out as a lesbian to her family while in college. Sowers also told Outsports that football was her favorite sport growing up and that ever since she was child, she knew she wanted to be a football coach.

“The most fulfilling aspect is having the ability to impact the lives of these young men chasing their dream of playing in the NFL, as well as serve as a role model for young girls who might happen to see me following my passion,” Sowers said. “I am a strong believer that the more we can expose children to a variety of different opportunities in life, the better chance they have of finding their true calling.

“I would have loved to see women in this role when I was growing up because I think it would have allowed me to follow my passion even earlier. If you can’t see something happen, sometimes it’s hard to believe it can. We don’t know what we don’t know, and I didn’t know football was even a possibility for women.”

Sowers first began working in the NFL as an intern with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016, where she impressed current 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who was then serving as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.

“Katie did a real good job for us in Atlanta, she’s done a really good job here,” Shanahan told reporters earlier this month. “She helps [receivers coach] Mike LaFleur out, just with some rotations and she helps our quality control [coaches] out just with all the stuff they have to do. She’s a hard worker, you don’t even notice her because she just goes to work and does what’s asked. Because of that, she’s someone we’d like to keep around.”

Sowers also said that Falcons general manager Scott Pioli — who was the team’s assistant GM before Sowers began her internship — was aware of her sexual orientation when Pioli hired her, and that he and the rest of the organization was “open-minded” and treated her with great respect and acceptance. She also said that she is confident that an openly gay male coach could achieve the same success she has thus far.

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

Sowers played pro football for the U.S. national team at several different positions including wide receiver. She also served as a USA Football adviser, and as general manager of the Women’s Football Alliance’s Kansas City Titans.

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