What they're saying about Kentwan Balmer

Kentwan Balmer was the rave after the 49ers selected him with their first-round pick in the NFL draft on Saturday, and here's what his coach at the University of North Carolina and the coaches he'll be working with in San Francisco had to say about the talented defensive lineman and what he brings to his new team.

BUTCH DAVIS, Balmer's head coach at the University of North Carolina:
"First of all, Kentwan is a great kid. He's got a real passion to play. He's explosive, powerful and quick. He's got an enormous amount of upside. He really came into his own this (past season). We thought he was a terrific inside defensive tackle, a 3-technique nose tackle. One of the things a lot of the teams loved about him was the versatility that he could fit a 4-3. He could play in a 3-4 scheme. He has the ability to really dominate at the line of scrimmage, and he's got the athletic ability to pursue and to make extended plays at the perimeter. Besides being a good football player, he's got great character and leadership. He'll be a very, very good selection for the 49ers.

"He really truly started to learn this year what it took to be a great player. That it wasn't just good enough to just have that innate athletic ability, that it took a great deal of preparation. There takes an awful lot to be a pro football player, and he wanted so passionately so much to be one. He really, truly wanted this day to happen in his life, and he worked extraordinarily hard to make it happen."

"Very rarely did anybody really block him one-on-one. He's got the height at 6-5, and he's a little over 305 pounds. He kept his weight between 295 and 310 because he didn't know which direction he was going to go. Was he going to be an inside guy? An outside guy? He's got long arms, so he can separate from blockers, and he's got excellent change of direction. He can really collapse the pocket inside. He's got really good first-step explosion. All the great defensive linemen that I've ever been around, if you don't have great first-step explosion to beat people, to penetrate, to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage, you just become pretty average real quickly. He has that capability.

"He's gregarious, a little bit shy at times. He's got a wonderful personality, loves to laugh. I think he will be a hit in the locker room. He'll understand where he is as a rookie coming in. His work ethic, the veteran players will adapt to him. He'll do everything he can to fit in. People will enjoy him. The media will enjoy getting to know him. He's articulate. He loves to talk about himself and his teammates. He's a kid that people will enjoy having in that franchise."

MIKE NOLAN, 49ers head coach:
"He's a very athletic big guy. He'll compete at the nose as well as the end position. Since we only have three defensive line positions, he will compete at both. I would think more along the lines of the nose and the left end position where (Bryant Young) has left, but that's also where Isaac Sopoaga, right now, is pegged to be the guy. So there will be some competition there. He's going to make somebody better. Whether he takes their job or he pushes them, but I'm looking for him to contribute. One of the things that was interesting and also encouraging was he's a guy that plays almost every snap. It's very difficult to have the stamina to play ever snap in a football game as a defensive linemen. So a guy that can play and have the stamina is really big. He's also athletic. He's got great size. I'm excited about it.

"He is a high-motor, play-every-snap kind of player. The coaches loved him. (They) said that the guy (is) a great individual, a great person, and a hard-worker. They all said a lot of good things about him. He's good enough to play on the end. He's not just a ‘sit in there and hold the point kind of guy.' There's some players that are just one dimensional, just stay in there, do the dirty work and don't go anywhere. There's other guys that just slug it out right there (in the middle). He can do both, so I'm kind of anxious to see it. He's got great strength and great power. Is he a finesse guy? No, but I'm not looking for a finesse guy."

GREG MANUSKY, 49ers defensive coordinator:
"He's a talented player who has a lot of ability. He's a good run stopper down there in North Carolina. He's a productive player. If you watched all the defensive line from all the college players, it was phenomenal that he played every snap. He was out there competing. He's a great kid who will complement the defense here. He's got some great run stopping ability and has some pass rush inside, so it's good to get those players. He is a great guy with no off-the-field problems, and is a leader on the field."

Niners Digest Top Stories