SAN FRANCISCO -- Imagine rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III coming to face the 49ers on Sunday with an electrified St. Louis Rams offense.
Instead, here is the Rams' reality: They're bringing a still-suspect Sam Bradford, a 28th-ranked offense and a last-place record (3-5).
Rather than select Griffin with the No. 2 overall pick, the Rams preferred a war chest of other draft picks and let the Washington Redskins move up to select "RGIII."
Jeff Fisher earned his first win as Rams coach by defeating the Redskins on Sept. 16. After back-to-back home wins over division rivals Arizona and Seattle, the Rams held a 3-2 mark and were one game out of the NFC West lead. Then came a three-game losing streak, dropping the Rams into their familiar territory.
"One of our biggest problems is shooting ourselves in the foot, killing ourselves with mental mistakes and things that we can control," Bradford told St. Louis reporters last week.
Such issues often accompany the Rams' visits to Candlestick Park, where they've lost in their past four trips and eight of their last 10. Both the Rams and first-place 49ers (6-2) are coming off byes.
"We have a lot of respect for the Rams," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We had two tough ballgames with them last year. You see a very tough, aggressive, hard-hitting team. Really, really good everywhere you look."
Really good? Everywhere?
Fisher is trying to turn around that franchise by, somewhat, following the 49ers' path.
Committed to a quarterback who was a No. 1 overall draft pick, the Rams are aided in large part by a two-back rushing attack (Steven Jackson, Daryl Richardson) with an unheralded receiving corps. Defensively, the Rams have a talented front, and they've added a well-known cornerback through free agency in Cortland Finnegan.
The 49ers' blueprint: Turn Alex Smith into a winner, run Frank Gore with occasional relief from Kendall Hunter, and support a staunch defensive front with a secondary that includes last season's free-agent additions of cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety Donte Whitner.