Despite playing nearly half the season in the AFC, and having no interceptions, respect and votes from players and coaches carried Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey to another Pro Bowl.
In balloting results announced this week, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman received the most votes from fans for NFC players at his position. Ramsey no doubt received fan votes but earned Pro Bowl recognition for the third season in a row via votes from players and coaches, which accounts for two-thirds of the voting.
Sherman, Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints and Darius Slay of the Detroit Lions were other NFC cornerbacks voted to the Pro Bowl.
“Knowing that my peers — the players and coaches — still see what I do and see the production that I put out there on the field, it’s an honor,” Ramsey said Thursday.
Ramsey and defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who was voted to the Pro Bowl for the sixth time, are part of a Rams defense that must bounce back Saturday against the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.
The Rams (8-6), a Super Bowl participant last season, will miss the playoffs unless they defeat the 49ers (11-3) and the Arizona Cardinals, and the Minnesota Vikings (10-4) lose home games against the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.
The Rams are coming off an embarrassing 44-21 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys. Ramsey, however, limited Cowboys star receiver Amari Cooper to one catch for 19 yards.
“He took Amari Cooper out of the game,” said Rams safety Eric Weddle, a six-time Pro Bowl selection. “Anytime he was manned up he didn’t get a ball thrown his way.”
Ramsey, 25, was not yet a member of the Rams when they lost to the 49ers, 20-7, on Oct. 13 at the Coliseum. The last time 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo faced the Rams, the secondary included cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Troy Hill and safeties John Johnson and Eric Weddle.
Weddle is the only member of that group who will be on the field Saturday.
Peters was traded to the Baltimore Ravens a few hours before the Rams traded for Ramsey. Hill had surgery Monday for a thumb injury suffered against the Cowboys, and coach Sean McVay on Thursday declared him out of the game against the 49ers. Johnson suffered a right shoulder injury against the 49ers in October, played through it, and then had season-ending surgery.
So Ramsey will start opposite cornerback Darious Williams, with Weddle and rookie Taylor Rapp at safety.
The 49ers, with running backs Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman and fullback Kyle Juszczyk, rank second in the NFL in rushing. Coach Kyle Shanahan utilizes the run game to set up Garoppolo for passes to the running backs, star tight end George Kittle and receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel, among others.
“They’ve got some good receivers that make a lot of plays, a quarterback who gets them the ball and a good tight end,” Ramsey said. “Just excited for another opportunity to go out and play.”
Sanders, as with Ramsey, was a midseason acquisition. He has 30 catches, three for touchdowns, since his trade from the Denver Broncos.
Two weeks ago against the New Orleans Saints, Sanders caught seven passes for 157 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown. He also passed for a touchdown in the 48-46 victory that kept the 49ers in the hunt for the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips knows Sanders well. Both helped the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 50 at the end of the 2015 season. Sanders caught six passes for 83 yards in the 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
“He’s savvy, he recognizes coverages real well, he knows where the weaknesses are, he knows where to run to,” Phillips said. “He helped me get a ring, so I’m a fan of his as far as that’s concerned, but not this week.”
Tight end Gerald Everett is recovered from a knee injury that sidelined him for three games and will be available against the 49ers, McVay said. … Kicker Greg Zuerlein (thigh) is scheduled to kick during a workout Friday. The Rams could sign a free agent if Zuerlein is not physically sound.