Assistant coach Katie Sowers not returning to San Francisco 49ers next season

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Katie Sowers, one of the NFL's first full-time female assistants and its first openly gay coach, will not return to the San Francisco 49ers next season, she said on social media Thursday.

Her contract is expiring after four seasons with the team as an offensive assistant, primarily working alongside receivers coach Wes Welker with that position group.

"Dear Faithful, We have been through so much together over the last 4 years and words will never express how much your love and acceptance meant to me," Sowers posted on Instagram on Thursday. "I will forever cherish the memories and hearing your stories throughout the years. Together, we made a difference in this world. You were there every step of the way..from my first day at Levi's , to the super bowl, and even when my Dad passed away. You all supported me through it all.

"Change is inevitable in this life.. enjoy every minute and cherish the memories because time will pass you by faster than you know. One last walk out of the tunnel. I am forever grateful for my time in SF... until we meet again #foreverfaithful ����"

After spending the 2016 season as an intern with the Atlanta Falcons, Sowers joined the 49ers as part of their 2017 Bill Walsh NFL Coaching Diversity Fellowship. At the conclusion of that program, the team retained her as a seasonal offensive assistant.

For the past three seasons, Sowers, 34, has served as an offensive assistant, making her the franchise's first full-time female coach and the second full-time female assistant coach in league history.

While her role with the Niners mostly had her working with receivers, she also had a hand in game preparation with all offensive skill players.

In February, Sowers became the first female member of an NFL staff to coach in a Super Bowl.

"Being the first female in the Super Bowl, it's surreal," Sowers said then. "It really is. 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."