49ers' decision on Balmer speaks loudly

The San Francisco 49ers delivered a parting shot for the ages by trading 2008 first-round draft choice Kentwan Balmer not only within the NFC West, but to the first team on the 49ers' schedule in 2010.

Balmer projects as a five-technique defensive lineman in the mold of his new Seattle Seahawks teammate, Red Bryant. Neither the 49ers nor the Seahawks confirmed the expected swap because the deal was not yet finalized.

The Seahawks probably figured the price -- probably a late-round pick or a conditional pick -- was right, and they might as well see if a change of address helps Balmer realize more of his potential. It's not like Seattle is stacked at defensive end. The 49ers, by their actions, essentially said they think Balmer has virtually no shot at developing, and if a division rival wants him on its roster, fine by them.

How did this deal come together? Balmer was estranged from 49ers camp for unspecified reasons, so the Seahawks and other NFL teams knew he was available.

Scot McCloughan's offseason departure from his post as 49ers general manager and subsequent hiring in Seattle gave the Seahawks special insight into Balmer. McCloughan and then-49ers coach Mike Nolan were the primary football decision makers in San Francisco when the team drafted Balmer.

It's possible McCloughan's connections to the 49ers helped get this deal done, but it's worth noting that Seattle general manager John Schneider worked with 49ers player personnel director Trent Baalke as members of the Washington Redskins in 2001.