With NFL teams kicking off training camp season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has jumped to the top of the list of best-selling player jerseys.
Kaepernick's number 7 jersey was the top seller at NFLShop.com from April 1 through June 30, according to the league's Joanna Hunter. The 25-year old star is also No. 1 at Fanatics.com, said the online retailer's Meier Raivich.
After coming off the bench to lead the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, Kaepernick rose to number 4 in jersey sales last season, ahead of Tom Brady of the New England Patriots but behind Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. Electrifying rookie Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins led all jersey sales at the NFL's online store from April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013.
The edgy, tattooed Kaepernick has "huge upside," said Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports Marketing. "He's the kind of player people like."
Seven of the top 10 best sellers are QBs. Two linebackers make the list but they're both retiring: Lewis and Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears. There's one running back: Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings.
Nike took over as the NFL's official outfitter last season. A youth Kaepernick jersey, for example, costs $69.95 at NFLShop.com, while men's and women's jerseys sell for $94.95 and $99.95, respectively. An autographed jersey will run you $559.95.
No wonder sales of licensed merchandise based on sports leagues and events have become a billion dollar business. Retail sales rose to just over $13 billion in 2012, a 2.2 percent increase from $12.79 billion in 2011, according to The Licensing Letter. Apparel and accessories generated 46.6 percent.
What about Tim Tebow? He's not in the top 25 this summer as he tries to salvage his career with the Patriots. Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens, the talented but dull QB who beat Kaepernick's 49ers 34-31 in New Orleans, ranks No. 25.
Here are the first five of the top 10 best-selling players this summer, along with their position, jersey numbers and NFL experience.
1. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (QB, No. 7, three years)
2. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (QB, No. 3, two years)
3. Robert Griffin III, Redskins (QB, No. 10, two years)
4. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (RB, No. 28, seven years)
5. Peyton Manning, Broncos (QB, No. 18, 16 years)
Michael McCarthy covers Sports Business for Advertising Age in New York. He's been a sportswriter for USA TODAY, Newsday, NFL and SportsBizUSA. Follow him on Twitter @MMcCarthyREV.