SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer put his future with the San Francisco 49ers in jeopardy today when he failed to show up for practice after being told by coach Mike Singletary to report.
Balmer had been given two days to handle a personal matter and was expected to return to the team today.
”I told Kentwan to be here this morning. He was not,” a terse Singletary said after the morning workout. “For us, we’re just going to move forward.”
Singletary would not say if the 49ers intend to release Balmer, who was the team’s first-round draft choice in 2008 but has struggled in his first two seasons. In fact, Singletary made it clear he didn’t want to address the Balmer mystery at all.
”I don’t want to go there,” he said. “I’m done with that. I’m done. I don’t want to say anything further than that. If you guys want any information about Kentwan, go to Kentwan.”
Reached at his home by the San Jose Mercury News, Balmer said he planned to meet with Singletary today and intends to return to the team.
"People are making a big deal out of nothing," he said.
According to an NFL spokesman, the 49ers could request waivers on Balmer with the designation “left squad” or could place him on reserve/left squad five days after notifying the league office, among several options.
Players went through a shortened practice in jerseys, shorts and helmets, seemingly unaffected by the fact a teammate was officially AWOL. Balmer was battling for a backup job behind starter Justin Smith, although there was no guarantee he would win a job.
“One guy’s not here, the next guy’s gotta roll in,” Smith said. “It’s not a problem.”
According to several reports, the 49ers intend to bring in DE Will Tukuafu for a workout, making it clear the team has decided to move on without Balmer. Tukuafu, a rookie, played at Oregon but was undrafted.
Meantime, Singletary said the 49ers are not distracted by Balmer’s absence.
”It is not a distraction. It is not a team issue,” he said. “We’re moving forward.”