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Colin Kaepernick's social media is surging


From kaepernick7 via Instagram.Send me or @1stladyxamsport the most creative pic of you #kaepernicking and I'll give you this shirt off my back

Colin Kaepernick's (@Kaepernick7) online and social media presence has surged this season along with the San Francisco 49ers' success on the field. This week, the 49ers QB will launch his new website: Kaepernick7.com.

"I'm working out a deal with the owner of Kaepernick7. That will be the official site. That's what Colin has chosen as his Twitter handle and Instagram handle. Kaepernick7.com is a natural for his brand. We expect to have at least the homepage up sometime in the next day or two," Shawn M. Smith, PR & marketing director for X-A-M Sports and for Kaepernick told Playbook on Tuesday. Several other domain names, including ColinKaepernick.com, were previously squatted by owners who simply wanted too much money.

The timing is nearly perfect. The 49ers are playing at Atlanta on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. And "Kaepernicking" has captured the digital world this week. "Kaepernicking" was born in a Twitter meme in December. It's only natural that its current resurgence has social media platforms flooded with photos of people and animals kissing their biceps in a show of support for the San Francisco quarterback.

This latest surge in Kaepernick's digital popularity -- triggered by his four-touchdown, 444-multipurpose-yard performance against Green Bay on Saturday and his celebratory biceps-tattoo-smooch pose -- did not faze his family or his PR and marketing team.

Neither does the coverage and (often) criticism that comes with everything Kaepernick these days, whether it's taking the starting job from an injured veteran and keeping it after his return, sporting multiple tattoos or reports that this latest move was something he co-opted from other athletes. The "Kaepernicking vs. Tebowing" debate has been raging across social and traditional media for the past several days.

"We used to think it was unfair, people commenting on someone they don't know. But as time has gone on, we just have accepted he is a public figure and is scrutinized by everyone," Rick Kaepernick, Colin's father, told Playbook on Monday.

Rick Kaepernick and his wife, Teresa, went public with their dismay over a national column on AOL/SportingNews that criticized their son's multiple visible tattoos in late November.

"We feel that the media should have a responsibility to report the facts, but have a tendency to want to sensationalize things," he said. "It comes with the territory."

The physical act of "Kaepernicking" was born in the wake of that tattoo controversy during the 49ers' victory over the Dolphins on Dec. 9. Kaepernick make the gesture of kissing the tattoos on his right biceps after scoring a touchdown, his first since the tattoo flap, as a way to demonstrate that he was indeed in love with his tattoos, not necessarily himself.

The hashtag #Kaepernicking first went viral after this tweet from @NFL_memes, which was re-tweeted by Kaepernick with the words "love my tats even if you don't."

Sammy, Colin Kaepernick's pet tortoise, took to Twitter on Monday to reiterate that "Kaepernicking" is all about honoring the tats, not the muscle. And it wasn't a move purposely lifted from the likes of Metta World Peace, Steve Nash or pro wrestler Scott Steiner, who befriended current 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh during their days together at Michigan.

"I'm a huge 49ers and Kaepernick fan. I think he's a helluva athlete," Steiner told Playbook Tuesday. "I don't think him kissing his bicep has anything to do what I did, but they said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I think it's cool people are making the comparison. Some of those touchdown runs are pretty awesome. It was just part of my act."

"The most precious part of 'Kaepernicking' is that it developed organically," Smith said. "When Colin got into the end zone [the first time] after the article appeared, he brushed his biceps and kissed them, welcoming in 'Kaepernicking.' Colin is a man of few words and that seemed to be his message to the world that he was proud of his ink -- which as you know are almost all Biblical in nature."

Kaepernicking has been almost exclusive to the QB's right arm, which features the word "Faith" tattooed across the top of the biceps and the words "My Gift" across the inside. The words "My Curse" appear on the inside if his left biceps.

Someone unlikely to be caught "Keapernicking" is Sammy (@SammyKeap), who lives with Colin's parents in Turlock, Calif. The tortoise's Twitter account, which has more than 1,100 followers, was just another way for Kaepernick's team to reach out to fans. His actual human social media counterpart remains a guarded family secret. Sammy is 15 years old and weighs more than 115 pounds. But he has slowed the steady destruction of his grandparents' backyard.

"Sammy is in semi-hibernation these days. He tends to stay in his hut. When the 49ers win, he gets a extra head of lettuce," Rick Kaepernick said. "If we can find them this time of year, it would be seedless grapes and strawberries."

Bill Speros is an ESPN.com contributor. He can be reached on Twitter @billsperos or via e-mail at bsperos1@gmail.com.