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49ers place DT Kentwan Balmer on Injured Reserve

So I guess that injury to DT Kentwan Balmer ended up a bit more serious than previously expected.  Balmer had shoulder surgery this morning and has been placed on the Injured Reserve List, ending his season.  To fill Balmer's roster spot, the team has signed DT Baraka Atkins.  Atkins (6-4, 268) originally entered the NFL as a fourth round draft pick (120th overall) of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2007 Draft. He has played in 21 career games and recorded 28 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and one pass defensed. Atkins was released by the Seahawks in September.  Atkins, a 25-year-old native of Sarasota, FL, played collegiately at Miami (FL).

Balmer has come under much criticism since the 49ers took him in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft.  The running joke his first year was that at one point he had more kick returns than tackles, thanks to his role as one of the up-men.  This season he's certainly shown some improvement, although that's not too difficult when the bar was set so low his first year.  Nonetheless, it seemed like we were hearing his name more and more as the season went along.  Maybe not huge impact type play, but improvement nonetheless.

Of course, he could be stuck for a while behind Isaac Sopoaga, so it will be tough for him to break through for now.  He's a guy we'll all be keeping an eye on next year in training camp.