New Seahawks defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer gets second chance to fulfill rookie promise
Forty-Niners give up on their 2008 first-round pick and ship defensive lineman to Seattle.
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — On the first day of his second NFL life, new Seahawks defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer crouched low into a sprinter's stance before slamming into prized rookie tackle Russell Okung and driving him into the offensive backfield.
Balmer came within a whisker of getting his hands on Matt Hasselbeck, but the Seahawks quarterback sidestepped the would-be tackler and completed a pass downfield.
The play pretty much summed up Balmer's career, which began with high expectations and has promised more than it has delivered.
Creating pressure on the passer is something the Seahawks wanted to see from their newest acquisition, who arrived Monday night via an unexpected trade with San Francisco.
The Seahawks reportedly gave up a future sixth-round pick, which seems a bargain price for the 6-foot-5, 315-pound defensive tackle who was taken 29th overall out of North Carolina in 2008.
He signed an $8 million, five-year contract with the 49ers, but his relationship with the team became unsalvageable after just two years.
Last week, he missed two days due to a personal matter. On Aug. 11, Balmer met with 49ers coach Mike Singletary but did not practice with the team and was declared absent without permission. The situation had become so toxic, San Francisco was willing to deal him to an NFC West rival for relatively small compensation.
On Tuesday, Balmer admitted the trade to Seattle is unusual.
"I can understand how it strikes some people a little different," he said before repeating the message that seems to be his new mantra: "I'm ready to move on."
"What happened down there is down there," Balmer said. "I'm up here and ready to move forward. (I'm) happy to have a fresh start and ... ready to compete."
Balmer fielded 22 questions during a five-minute interview after practice, and half of them were in reference to the 49ers. Despite several questions, Balmer declined to explain what went wrong in San Francisco.
"I'm sure the 49ers have turned the page," he said. "I'm happy to be here as a Seattle Seahawk, and I'm just moving forward."
At 23, Balmer is starting all over again.
He's in a new system, Seattle's 4-3 defensive scheme, which he said favors his talents "because it allows you to get off the ball, create a little havoc and make plays."
Making plays is something Balmer didn't do consistently in San Francisco where he never started a game, never had a sack and managed just 11 tackles in two seasons.
In San Francisco, Singletary didn't provide many clues as to why Balmer was unable to duplicate the success he had at North Carolina when he compiled 59 tackles, 9 ½ tackles for losses and 3 ½ sacks as a senior.
"I think he's a fine young man, but obviously there are some things he needed to express and deal with," Singletary told reporters said. "I'm happy for him."
On Tuesday, Balmer practiced at end and defensive tackle.
"They like versatile guys here," he said. "I mesh well with these guys, and all of us can do a lot of different things so it's going to be highly competitive to see how things turn out."
Balmer's first game with the Seahawks is expected to be in Saturday's exhibition against Green Bay.
The Seahawks start the regular season Sept. 12 — against his former team.
"There's no hard feelings," Balmer said. "I thank the 49ers for giving me the opportunity and allowing me to move on."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
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