The San Francisco 49ers travel this weekend to face the Houston Texans in their preseason opener. The game kicks off at 5 p.m. PT, and will primarily be broadcast locally on KPIX, which is the Bay Area's CBS station. None of the 49ers preseason games will be broadcast nationally, but there is a legal streaming option at your disposal.
I have good news and bad news about watching 49ers preseason games online this year. In the past, the NFL offered something called Preseason Live. For $20, you could watch every preseason game live, except those broadcast nationally, and I believe if you live in the local broadcast market. This year, the NFL changed that option. The league previously offered Preseason Live and NFL Rewind (for watching regular season games after the fact, and getting coaches' film) as two separate packages. This year, they have combined those two into one package called NFL Game Pass that costs $99.99.
If you had NFL Rewind last year and auto-renewed, you got the total package for $69.99, so that is a plus. However, if you had only previously purchased Preseason Live, you're left without the same option. That's the bad news.
How to watch 49ers-Texans (or one 49ers preseason game of your choice) online for free
The good news is there is a limited offer at NFL.com that can let you watch the 49ers-Texans game for free without paying up for the whole Game Pass option. They are offering a free 7-day trial. You would have to provide your credit card number and then actively go in and cancel it before the seven days is up, but if you do that, you can get one preseason game for free.
Another option would be to wait until the following weekend. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, August 23, and then the Denver Broncos on Saturday, August 29. You could start the seven-day trial on August 23, and have it through a second preseason game the following Saturday. It is possible NFL.com will remove the trial after this weekend, but if you want to roll the dice and wait, that is an option. And of course, you could also wait further and get it the following Saturday and have it for the Week 3 Saturday game and the following Week 4 Thursday game.
Whatever the case, those are your options to avoid giving the NFL your money in what strikes me as a cash-grab in poor form. I appreciate that I can save money as a person who uses both Rewind and Preseason Live, but this strikes me as unfair for those who only use Preseason Live. I'm curious to see how many of those people will dole out the $99.99 for it this year.