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How to watch 49ers preseason games for free in 2018

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The 49ers have added a new streaming option, but you might need a VPN to watch them.

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The 2018 preseason schedule is officially underway after the Hall of Fame Game wrapped up last Thursday. This week, the full NFL slate gets going, with a majority of games on Thursday, and two each on Friday and Saturday.

We won’t see a lot of the starters in Week 1, but that will progressively increase until most starters get the night off in Week 4. The lack of most of the starters playing reminds us 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 9): vs. Dallas Cowboys, 7 p.m. - NFL Network broadcasting entire game
Week 2 (Aug 18): @ Houston Texans, 5 p.m. - KPIX (no national coverage)
Week 3 (Aug 25): @ Indianapolis Colts, 1:30 p.m. - KPIX (no national coverage)
Week 4 (Aug 30): vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 7 p.m. - KPIX (no national coverage)

All four games will be broadcast locally in the Bay Area on CBS, but only the Cowboys game will be nationally broadcast on NFL Network.

One big change this year is that the 49ers will be streaming all four preseason games on 49ers.com and through the team’s mobile app. The downside to this is that it will only work for people located in the 49ers broadcast region. That covers Northern California, over to Reno, and maybe into southern Oregon.

If you are not in that area, one option you have is to use a VPN. I have never used one, so if anybody wants to discuss them in the comments, go to town. I’ve heard there are some decent ones that cost $5-$10 per month.

If you don’t want to get a VPN to stream the games at the 49ers website, there are some online options that have NFL Network for the first game and offer free trials. There are 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 it 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.

DirecTV Now

DirecTV Now recently added NFL Network to its packages. Like Sling TV, you can get a seven-day trial for this first preseason gamee.

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.

If this is your play, I would recommend signing up for Sling TV or DirecTV for the first game, and then signing up for GamePass after that. If you are planning on watching the final preseason game, your best bet is signing up for it in time for Week 3 Saturday game, and then you get the Week 4 short week game the following Thursday. If the one week of Gamepass is based on the time you purchase it, you could get it for the team’s 5 p.m. PT Week 2 game and cancel at the end of the team’s Week 3 1:30 p.m. game. I’m not sure about that though.