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Setting expectations for 2010: DL Kentwan Balmer

Yesterday morning, Matt Maiocco conducted an hour-long chat session where he answered questions on a variety of topics related to the 49ers and the rest of the NFC West. Given the volume of questions there were plenty of interesting topics MM explored. I wanted to bring up a topic that we have generally not spoken of all that frequently: Kentwan Balmer. Obviously his name comes up in discussions, but given his status with the team, he is not discussed nearly as frequently as most of the rest of the team, or even many potential draft picks.

In MM's chat, there was one Balmer question:

Q: Do you see Balmer to win the starting spot over Sopoaga next season, assuming that Sopoaga isn't injured.

A: Balmer is still rehabbing his shoulder after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum. It's going to be difficult for him to win that job this year just because of the setback. He needs the offseason more than anyone.

Balmer has two season under his belt, but progress has been rather slow. In 2008, he had almost as many kick returns (as an up-man) as tackles and really saw very little playing time. In 2009, Balmer started to take a step forward, but he remained on the short end of the playing time stick. And then his season came to a premature end with a torn labrum, causing him to miss the final five games of the season.

A torn labrum is a tough injury and can be easily re-aggravated if it is not completely healed. Full recovery is readily available, but obviously it's quite the process. Given the injury setback, how does that affect people's expectations about Balmer in year 3? Some have already hung the bust label on him, without factoring in a setback from injury.

I can certainly understand people's frustrations. I've attached a poll with a third option for I don't know because for many of us (including myself), I don't think I can label this a bust or not at this point. I can see why he could very well become a bust, but I can also see reasons why it's too soon to tell. All of this is especially frustrating when we're talking about a first round pick. So, can we expect much from Balmer in 2010? Do people think the draft will play into the eventual result?