Even if Kentwan Balmer returns to the San Francisco 49ers, he faces tough odds to make the roster, team sources have told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora.
La Canfora reports the 49ers are also shopping the former first-round pick, with some interest in the sixth- or seventh-round level, according to a league source.
Balmer, a first-round draft pick in 2008, hasn't returned to 49ers training camp since coach Mike Singletary gave him a two-day leave to deal with undisclosed personal matters last Monday and Tuesday. When Balmer didn't show up Wednesday, his absence was considered unexcused and upset Singletary.
"If Balmer wanted to be back, he'd be back," Singletary said Friday.
According to a league source, the 49ers gave Balmer a letter saying he was required to report in five days. It wasn't know which day Balmer received the notice.
Balmer's rookie contract is worth about $8 million over five seasons, and it includes a $1.6 million signing bonus, a portion of which the 49ers apparently are trying to recoup, according to the report.
Balmer had a poor camp before he left the team, and he also struggled mightily with off-the-field issues, teammates told La Canfora. The defensive lineman is coping with family issues and has several immediate family members in distressed situations. Balmer also is a prominent figure in an NCAA investigation into improper actions by agents, but that isn't believed to have contributed to his absence from the 49ers.
Balmer received reps with the third team, yet he still failed to produce against that inferior competition, according to sources.
"He has a lot going on right now, and it all sort of piled up on him," one teammate said. "But it's like he just folded under the pressure."
Balmer was razzed by teammates about being a first-round bust, but rather than use it as motivation, he buckled, the teammate said.
"It seemed like he had very low self esteem," the teammate said. "It was like he just can't take the joke."
Though they expect Balmer back soon, players wouldn't be surprised if Singletary cut ties with the former first-rounder. Balmer hasn't responded to calls from many teammates.
The man who drafted Balmer, former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan, is no longer with the organization, and Singletary has an authoritarian bent, which could hasten Balmer's exit from San Francisco in the coming weeks.
Another absent defensive lineman, Aubrayo Franklin, has yet to sign his franchise tender. Several sources indicated he's planning to do so in the coming weeks, certainly before the season.
Franklin would like assurances that he won't be franchised in the future, according to sources. The 49ers aren't concerned about Franklin's absence, though, because they fully expect him to play this season and know he's working out hard and staying in shape.