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How to watch 49ers preseason games for free

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You can watch the first three games easily. All four might take a little planning.

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The Hall of Fame Game got the preseason going on Thursday, and the lack of most of the starters playing reminded us once again that nobody should have to pay to watch preseason football on television. It’s ridiculous the prices they charge to watch at the stadiums, but I have no control over that. However, I can help you save a few bucks while still being able to watch some or all of the San Francisco 49ers preseason games.

The San Francisco 49ers play four preseason games, and three of them will be broadcast on national television in some form or fashion. Here is a rundown of the full schedule (all times pacific).

Week 1 (Aug 11): @ Kansas City Chiefs, 6 p.m. - NFL Network joins the broadcast at 7 p.m.
Week 2 (Aug 19): vs. Denver Broncos, 7 p.m. - NFL Network broadcasting entire game
Week 3 (Aug 27): @ Minnesota Vikings, 5 p.m. - NBC national game
Week 4 (Aug 31): vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 7 p.m. - KPIX (no national coverage)

All four games will be broadcast locally in the Bay Area on CBS. NFL Network will air the first game, but will be joining the broadcast an hour in. NFL Network will provide full coverage of the team’s Week 2 preseason contest. Week 3 will be the national Sunday game on broadcast TV. The finale is the only game with no national coverage.

Not everybody has cable, so even the NFL Network games are not a guaranteed option. Fortunately, there are two online options that provide free trials. They give you a chance to test out a given service, usually for a week, before committing to any sort of monthly or yearly payment. There are obviously illegal options as well, but we certainly would not promote that kind of thing here. If you know of any other legal options, let us know in the comments!

Sling TV

If you do not have NFL Network, Sling TV includes in their stable of channels. Sling TV is an option for people wanting to cut the cord and not pay for cable anymore. They offer a seven-day trial.

NFL Gamepass

NFL.com offers Gamepass, which broadcasts preseason games live and makes them available on archive, while also providing archived regular season games. If you live in the market of either team playing in a given game, Gamepass will be blacked out for you for that game. More importantly for now, you can get a free seven-day pass with your first sign up. The 49ers first two games are eight days apart, so you can only get one game out of it this year. The 49ers do have two games over the course of five days to close out the preseason, but one is on NBC, so it holds a little less value.

If you don’t have NFL Network, your best bet this month would be to use Sling TV for the first game, NFL Gamepass for the second game, and then enjoy the NBC game on broadcast TV in Week 3. It leaves you without the final preseason game, but that’s always the worst game. Additionally, with 90-man rosters now lasting through that game, it will be a that much lower-level of football being played.