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Rams star cornerback Jalen Ramsey draws comparisons to LeBron James

Jalen Ramsey of the Rams lines up on defense.
Jalen Ramsey’s skills and versality has made a difference to the Rams’ defense.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

The trade that brought him from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Rams last October ensured that Jalen Ramsey would have a star turn in Los Angeles.

Now the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback is actually playing the versatile “star” position in the Rams defense — and drawing comparisons to the city’s biggest superstar.

“I see him like a LeBron James is used on the basketball court,” Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley said this week, adding, “He’s what his team needs him to be in that particular game in order for them to be successful. That’s what makes him one of the best players of all time. ... I feel like Jalen’s that same way.

“We’re going to put him where we feel like it’s best and fortunate he’s got skill sets to be able to move him around some.”

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As with James — a four-time NBA champion who can play guard, forward or center in basketball for the Lakers — Ramsey has been deployed this season as a cornerback on the outside, in the slot, and also as a safety, hybrid linebacker and pass rusher.

“Jalen Ramsey is a natural player at ‘star,’ ” Staley said. “I think that anybody that knows his game going back from when he was in high school knows that this is what he’s capable of doing.”

Although the Rams’ Aaron Donald dominates all of the NFL, when checking the statistics it seems the defensive tackle performs better against NFC West rivals.

Ramsey has helped the Rams to a 4-1 start going into Sunday’s NFC West game against the San Francisco 49ers (2-3) at Levi’s Stadium.

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The Rams rank fourth in the NFL in defense, giving up 304.2 yards per game. They are second in passing defense (197.8 yards per game), third in scoring defense (18 points per game) and ninth in rushing defense (106.4 yards per game).

Last season, Ramsey played only cornerback after the Rams gave up two first-round draft picks in a deal near the NFL trade deadline.

His multifaceted role this season did not come as a surprise. From the time Staley was hired to replace Wade Phillips, he intimated Ramsey was not viewed solely as a cornerback. General manager Les Snead had said there was “a vision and goal” to utilize Ramsey “in a way that’s never been used before.”

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey  tackles New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate.
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey makes a highlight-worthy tackle on New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)
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Ramsey’s presence has created opportunities for other defensive backs, including cornerbacks Darious Williams and Troy Hill. But Ramsey also has made several key stops or pass breakups, including one involving Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper and another involving New York Giants receiver Golden Tate.

In last week’s 30-10 victory over Washington, Ramsey stopped quarterback Kyle Allen with a helmet-to-helmet collision that knocked Allen out of the game because of a shoulder injury.

Ramsey was fined more than $15,000 for a postgame fight with Tate and he could be fined again for the hit on Allen, regardless of whether it was intentional.

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Ramsey, who signed a $105-million extension before the season, declined Friday to participate in his regularly-scheduled weekly videoconference.

On the field, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week that Ramsey is “going to be a problem for a long time” for opposing play-callers.

“You don’t know where he’s going to be on the field,” Shanahan said.

Etc.

Linebacker Micah Kiser (groin/chest) was a full participant in practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Offensive lineman Bobby Evans (shoulder) is probable. ... Running backs coach Thomas Brown wore a protective boot and navigated the field at times on a scooter Friday after suffering a torn right Achilles during practice Thursday. Coach Sean McVay said Brown would have surgery next week.


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