SANTA CLARA -- Striving to force more turnovers, the 49ers defense has created rubber bracelets as a reward. They read: "To It = See It = Get It."
NaVorro Bowman coined that phrase and unveiled one such trophy on his left wrist in advance of their "Takeaway Thursday" practice. "We try to pride ourselves on defense with going after turnovers," Bowman said. "If you do that, you give your team a better chance to win."
Remarkably, the 49ers (9-3-1) have been winning without a cluster of takeaways. Opposing rushers haven't lost a fumble in their past 249 carries, a drought dating back to Toby Gerhart's two fumbles that Ahmad Brooks forced on Sept. 23 at Minnesota.
"We've just got to hit people hard," Brooks said. "Today is 'Takeaway Thursday,' so a lot of guys will be trying to strip the ball."
The 49ers haven't intercepted a pass in their past two games, or in the 92 passes they've faced since Brooks and Donte Whitner returned interceptions for touchdowns at New Orleans on Nov. 25.
On Sunday night, they'll face a New England Patriots team that's committed a league-low 10 turnovers, with five interceptions and five fumbles. Running back Stevan Ridley has lost one fumble in 243 carries (1,082 yards), and quarterback Tom Brady has lost none.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio called the Patriots' ball security amazing, adding: "They're a high-octane offense, yet they haven't turned the ball over hardly at all this year. So, when
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he became versed in the pistol formation by visiting Nevada's coaches before the 2010 season while Roman was assisting at Stanford. "That was very valuable time spent," said Roman, who recalled Kaepernick looking "productive" on the films he reviewed.
For each sack this season, Smith announced he will put $5,099 toward the Boys & Girls Clubs in San Francisco and East Palo Alto. He is three sacks shy of Michael Strahan's single-season league record of 22½.
"We are thrilled to be Aldon Smith's charity of choice and greatly appreciate his generosity," said Rob Connolly, president of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco.
Launching the craze, Kaepernick retweeted a fan's picture of his pose with the superimposed headlines: "Score a touchdown. Kiss your tattoo! #KAEPERNICKING." Kaepernick attached a personal message to that image: "Love my tats, even if you don't."