SANTA CLARA — Players are being reminded of a cardinal rule at 49ers training camp: Protect the football.

"Certainly, the whole team is coached on how to run and protect the football," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Saturday. "We just had a great meeting on ball security, headed by (running backs) coach (Tom) Rathman."

After losing eight fumbles in the regular season, the 49ers saw two potential scoring drives vanish in the playoffs when they literally dropped the ball. LaMichael James had a second-quarter fumble at the Ravens 25 when the 49ers trailed just 7-3, and Michael Crabtree lost a fumble at the Falcons 1 in the fourth-quarter of the NFC Championship game with the 49ers down 24-21.

"Four points of pressure," Roman said in repeating the long-time credo for holding a ball. "Squeeze it. Just ask Tom. He'll tell you."

Rathman, a former running back, is entering his 11th season as a 49ers assistant, having served an initial stint from 1997-02 before returning in 2009.

Asked if he helps tutors quarterback Colin Kaepernick's running style, Rathman responded: "No, other than the potential of taking care of the football. Kap's Kap. Jim (Harbaugh) and Geep (Cryst) coach him how to take care of himself. He's his own wire. The running game is all pretty much laid out."

Kaepernick lost had a team-high two fumbles last season. The 49ers' eight lost fumbles tied for the ninth fewest in the league, a year after losing only five fumbles.