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SANTA CLARA – The Seattle Seahawks generated a league-high 39 takeaways during the regular season. And Colin Kaepernick was a repeat victim.
In a Week 2 game, the Seahawks intercepted Kaepernick three times and forced a fumble of the 49ers’ quarterback, too.
“The Seattle defense is looking to get the ball at all time, create turnovers in any situation, generate them on all downs,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.
For the most part, Kaepernick has been immune to costly turnovers. On the season, he threw just eight interceptions and lost four fumbles. So there’s little doubt what the 49ers’ offense is emphasizing this week for their return trip to Seattle for the NFC Championship game.
Kaepernick was intercepted once and had no fumbles in the 49ers' 19-17 victory over the Seahawks at Candlestick Park in December.
But Harbaugh said this week's emphasis on avoiding turnovers is really no different than any other week of preparation.
“We do that with the whole team, in terms of protecting the ball, daily and hourly,” Harbaugh said.
And what does he tell his offensive players?
“Remind them to protect the ball, daily and hourly,” Harbaugh said.
The 49ers had an opportunity take an early lead against the Seahawks in the Week 2 game, but safety Earl Thomas intercepted a Kaepernick pass near the goal line on the 49ers’ second possession.
“We do have to protect the football,” Kaepernick said. “That’s something we haven’t done very well up there. And I think going into this game, we have to make sure we do that so we come out with a win.
“They have a good defense. So there are times they make plays. The more we can eliminate that and make plays on our side of the ball, the better off we’ll be.”
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has two interceptions in Kaepernick’s two starts in Seattle. Safety Kam Chancellor also intercepted a Kaepernick pass in Seattle this season.
“You really have to back to basics and play fundamentally sound football and take care of the small things,” 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin said. “You have to protect the ball, definitely. One possession can cost you the game.”