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Spotting Fake Jerseys on eBay

This guide was created to assist 49ers Webzone fans in spotting the growing amount of fake jerseys being sold on eBay. This guide will focus on authentic jerseys and not the replica style jerseys found on sites like nflshop.com. I hope that this guide is useful. Throughout this guide, I will give examples of current and throwback jerseys.

How to spot authentic jerseys

Stitched numbers and letters

If looking at a modern jersey, you want to make sure that the numbers and name on the back are stitched on. On throwback jerseys, they should be stitched on as well. But keep in mind that during the early 80's, some of the jerseys had more of a thick screen printing style to them so not all were stitched numbers and names. You could very well find a Joe Montana jersey that has a glossy and thick screen printing on it and assume it is a fake. It may actually still be an authentic. Remember to look for the correct patches for certain year jerseys. If it is a 1996 jersey, it should have a 50th anniversary path sewn near the collarbone area. If it is a 2006 jersey, it will have a 60th anniversary patch in the same location. 1994 jerseys will have the NFL 75th anniversary diamond patch. The smaller shoulder numbers should be stitched on as well. On current jerseys, these are located near the shoulders. On throwbacks, they are located on the sleeves themselves.


One of the easiest ways to make sure that the jersey you are buying is an authentic is to look at all of the material on the jersey. As you can see from the two images above, the body of the jersey has small little holes throughout. These holes are meant for ventilation in NFL games. However, this mesh type material is not limited to the body of the jersey. This should be the same material throughout the jersey. The picture shown to the right is from an authentic Alex Smith Reebok jersey. It is the top part of the jersey near the neck collar. Notice that the mesh material continues even in this area of the jersey.

This mesh material should also be visible on the sleeves of the jersey as you will see in the image supplied for the next section. Please note that this changed in 2007 when the top part and sleeves of the 49ers' on-field jerseys became a solid material.

Screen-printed logos and stripes on the sleeves

With the 1996 through 2009 jerseys, the logo on the sleeves will be screen-printed. It is NOT a patch that is sewn on. The brand logo (Adidas or Reebok) will be sewn on. Remember, the jersey style from 1996 through 2009 jerseys have the shadow on the sleeve stripes while throwbacks and jerseys from 2010 and on have no shadow and are just simple white stripes. The current jerseys have three angles stripes on the sleeves, meaning the top stripe is often completely visible while the other two disappear into the sleeve and do not wrap completely around. With the 80's and early 90's style throwbacks, the sleeve does have stitched numbers. With the current (2010 and on) jersey, the numbers are on the shoulders. With the jerseys from 1996 through 2009, you can see the holes in the stripes on the sleeves (pictured to the right). This is an easy way to spot an authentic from this era.

Nike takes over in 2012

Nike took over the rights for NFL apparel in 2012. With the new deal, Nike made a number of changes to their authentic jerseys. Some of the more noticeable changes are the lack of the once prominent small little holes in the mesh throughout the jerseys. The ventilation holes are still present in the jersey, just not throughout. They are now found only in areas where ventilation is most needed ... under the arms and around the stomach area. The rest of the jersey appears more solid. In fact, the area from the chest, where the front numbers are, and the stomach area appear to be two separate materials due to the stomach area having the ventilation holes and the chest area not having them.

Another very noticeable change is the neck collar. It has a very unique material called Flywire, composed of Vectran, to prevent stretching.

Get the real deal

If you really want to protect yourself against a fake looking jersey, you can buy the real deal over at the Official San Francisco 49ers Shop.

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