DL Kentwan Balmer was nowhere to be seen for the 49ers’ afternoon practice. In fact, none of the writers were sure Balmer had been there for the a.m. practice. It’s a statement on Balmer’s lack of development that you can watch two hours of field action and not remember if you saw No. 96 or not.
“He and I have to talk, and kind of figure some things out,” Singletary said after the p.m. practice. “And I don’t want to go any further than that right now.”
When I asked if Balmer will be back tomorrow, the coach replied: “He’ll be back.”
It all sounded open-ended and mysterious. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if this had to do with Balmer’s repetitions at defensive end, which have been limited. Last week, the Mercury News’ Dan Brown and I interviewed Balmer together, and I asked the defender if last year’s lack of production was because he wasn’t ready, or because he just didn’t get the opportunity.
Balmer, wanting to remain diplomatic, clearly was agitated by the question. He started and stopped several times, shaking his head and laughing.
“I felt like I was ready,” he finally answered. “I mean, I felt like I had a good preseason. But it ain’t up to me who gets an opportunity, you know what I’m saying? I felt like I was ready, but obviously that wasn’t the case. You turn on the preseason film and you make your own judgment.”
Stay tuned. Meanwhile, some other notes and observations from this afternoon’s practice…
• Singletary confirmed that C Eric Heitmann has a broken left fibula, and could miss six to eight weeks. David Baas continued to work at center with the first team. On his first snap of team period, he rolled a ground ball to Alex Smith.
• ILB NaVorro Bowman, who missed time during the morning practice, sat out entirely in the afternoon. Singletary said the rookie has a sprained shoulder and should return to action sometime tomorrow. Rookie CB Phillip Adams strained a hamstring in the p.m. Veteran courtesy for ILBs Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes, DE Justin Smith, S Michael Lewis and TE Vernon Davis. LT Joe Staley (neck spasms) returned to action.
• The linebacker corps was so depleted that the defense opened 7-on-7 with Matt Wilhelm and undrafted rookie Keaton Kristick in the middle.
• Bizarre atmosphere on the field as the 49ers piped in not crowd noise, but jazz standards, to challenge the offense during team period. Even a particularly breezy rendition of “Girl From Ipanema” couldn’t fluster the newly confident Alex Smith.
• Catch of the day: TE Delanie Walker planted, leaped and reached over OLB Parys Haralson to get Alex Smith’s throw in 7-on-7 as the teams worked on red zone. Just prior, the pair had connected on a touchdown pass.
• Instant replay: CB Will James went for the ball and missed in team period, allowing Kyle Williams to catch Smith’s throw in stride. At the end of that session, James jumped another Smith throw – and missed, again allowing Williams to make the reception.
• The definition of gall: showing up to a heavily attended 49ers practice wearing an official Rams jersey. Yes, he was booed, baited and threatened.