The San Francisco 49ers announced on Tuesday that they will be bringing in eight individuals to serve as coaching fellows through the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship. All 32 NFL teams take part, and they are encouraged to bring in at least four participants for the length of training camp and the preseason.
Among the 49ers participants this year is Katie Sowers. She worked with the Atlanta Falcons last year in the fellowship program, and then served as a scouting intern in their front office.
During her fellowship time with the Falcons, Sowers worked with assistant head coach, wide receivers coach Raheem Morris coach Raheem Morris and offensive assistant Mike LaFleur. That fellowship made her the third woman to have a coaching role in the NFL. Jen Welter with the Arizona Cardinals was the first under the Bill Walsh program, and Kathryn Smith served as a full-time coach (special teams quality control) with the Buffalo Bills under Rex Ryan.
On Tuesday, Shanahan was asked the significant of bringing in a female coach, and what her style was like in Atlanta. Shanahan’s first sentence below I think was meant to indicate he didn’t know her when the team first brought her in for the fellowship.
“Yeah, I didn't know Katie in Atlanta. I think [Falcons Assistant General Manager] Scott Pioli knew her. He asked if we would be good with her in our rooms and we were fine. She came in and worked with the receivers and did as good of a job as anyone I've had in the internship. She worked with [Falcons Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator] Raheem [Morris] and [Wide Receivers/Passing Game Specialist] Mike LaFleur last year in Atlanta. We loved having her around. She was eager to learn it, she has played professional football in a women's league in the United States for a while and she's passionate about it. Us spending a whole training camp with her, she did a great job and she ended up helping out in Atlanta in personnel throughout the year. She just hit me up a few months ago and said her internship was up over there and asked if we would want to have her here. There was no doubt. She does a good job and we're excited to have her.”