It's taken less than three months for the nation's football fans to become familiar with Colin Kaepernick, NFL quarterback.
But shortly after he and his San Francisco 49ers teammates return from the Super Bowl in New Orleans, another campaign will start, one that will introduce the sporting world to Colin Kaepernick Inc.
Shawn Smith, the public relations and marketing director for X-A-M Sports and also Kaepernick's marketing agent, said she has received at least 50 inquiries in the past three weeks from companies wanting to use Kaepernick and-or his image in their marketing, and those are in addition to the companies with which Smith has been speaking for months.
"I'm not saying those are 50 six-figure offers," she said. "Some are quirky."
While she couldn't be specific as to which companies soon will be featuring Kaepernick in their advertising, Smith was able to speak in generalities.
"I won't be surprised if we're with a beverage company or having something to do with headphones," she said. "Those two make a whole lot of sense. I also won't be surprised if he partners with a men's grooming and personal hygiene company.
"But Colin is a young guy and he has a different image from most NFL quarterbacks. It's important for me as a marketing agent to recognize and market those differences."
The endorsement deals available to NFL quarterbacks often exceed what they can make on the field, and that certainly could be the case with Kaepernick, at least initially.
He's in the second year of a four-year, $5.1 million deal. This season, he'll make $607,922 in salary and $556,688 in a prorated signing bonus, for a total from the 49ers of $1,164,610.
According to Forbes, Peyton Manning earns $10 million annually in endorsements, while little brother Eli rakes in $8 million off the field. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees cashes in with $5 million in nonfootball revenues, Tom Brady gathers $4 million and Michael Vick even after spending time in prison has signed endorsement deals worth $2 million a year.
Fully focused on football now
The fact that Kaepernick isn't already on television hawking cars, insurance or sports drinks is by design. His rise to NFL stardom has been so meteoric he's been an NFL starter for exactly 67 days there has been no time for him to pay attention to anything but football.
"Colin has asked not to be involved in this (during the season) because he has one focus," Smith said. "All I'm doing is taking information, taking calls from companies. We'll meet after the season and he'll decide the companies with which he wants to associate. If Kap's on board with anything, he's on board 100 percent."
But that's not to say that Smith and her husband (and Kaepernick's agent), Scott Smith, have just been sitting back and watching the vultures congregate.
The firm has established Kaepernick's official website, www.kaepernick7.com, and in recent weeks has filed papers seeking to trademark multiple variations on his name and image, including "Colin Kaepernick," "Kaepernick CK7," "Kap7," "Kap," "Kaepernick 7" and perhaps the most marketable word creation of the past few months, "Kaepernicking."
"What I want with the website is a portal for anything authentic and legitimate for Colin," Smith said. "If you're looking for a jersey, T-shirt or something signed, it will be there. You also can check on Colin's social media outlets and it will be a forum for Colin and his charity work. We don't have to have a lot of flash, a lot of bells and whistles. That's not him."
But who is Colin?
People who know him, especially Turlockers, say he is a bright and personable young man who is engaging and generous in conversation. But that's not the Kaepernick showing up in post-game interviews.
In those settings, his answers, while honest and sincere, are clipped in an obvious attempt to reveal as little about himself and his team as possible.
Following San Francisco's 42-13 loss at Seattle in a nationally televised game Dec. 23, Kaepernick climbed into a post-game press conference shell that did nothing to endear him with the media charged with covering his every move.
As one of those reporters pointed out, Kaepernick's Seattle output that night was 13 points and 187 words in response to 16 post-game questions.
Scott Smith pointed out that Kaepernick's post-game persona is a very real and natural part of his personality and is very different from the Kaepernick people will see in a social, nonfootball setting.
"He's very specific about what he says and how he answers questions," Scott Smith said. "As a quarterback of a team, you don't want to reveal information or say something to give opponents' teams ammunition. The only thing that matters to him right now is football. That's it, and everything he does is aimed toward the one goal of winning the next game.
"We're completely happy with the way this is playing out in the media. The message right now is that he's 100 percent focused on bringing a Super Bowl championship to San Francisco, and we don't need another message out there."
Shawn Smith was planning to be in New Orleans for Super Bowl week regardless of the 49ers' participation in the game. Super Bowl week is more than just the game, the concerts and the fan experience it's the one time all year when the NFL gets together to wine and dine all its corporate partners.
It's reflected each year in the stadium, where fewer than 40 percent of the tickets are allocated to the two competing teams. The majority of the seats are filled by the high-rolling advertisers and corporations that make each of the 32 franchises billion-dollar businesses.
In the days preceding the game, Shawn Smith will be meeting face-to-face with many of those companies, doing what she can to weed out those just trying to turn a quick profit on one of the NFL's hottest properties.
"We're not going to see any quick relationships, no one-shot deals with Colin," she said. "We want long-term deals that we can grow together. Everything we do with Colin needs to be clean and appropriate and on the up and up. We will do nothing of questionable taste."
And once the Super Bowl ends, Colin Kaepernick Inc. will be open for business.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2150.