Kendall Hunter PreseasonThe San Francisco 49ers and KPIX 5, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco, today announced a 10-year extension of their agreement to broadcast preseason games. By the end of the agreement, KPIX will have been a broadcast partner of the 49ers for over 40 years.

As part of the agreement, all 49ers preseason game broadcasts will air in high definition on KPIX 5, and be rebroadcasted on CW 44 Cable 12 (KBCW-TV). The partnership will also include 49ers Preview, the longest running weekly 49ers program in the Bay Area, where KPIX 5 sports anchor Dennis O’Donnell and analyst Tim Ryan break down the 49ers game from the previous weekend and take a look at the team’s upcoming opponent. The 10-year extension will also include additional programming: 49ers Press Pass, the live broadcast of Jim Harbaugh’s weekly day-after-game press conference, and the exclusive over-the-air broadcast of the official NFL Films 49ers Highlight Show.

“The 49ers are proud to continue a long-standing partnership with KPIX 5 that spans more than three decades,” said 49ers Chief Executive Officer Jed York. “As we continue to explore new and innovative ways to reach our Faithful fans, KPIX 5 has always been a consistent and valued partner in that effort. We look forward to providing our fans first-class 49ers content through our relationship with KPIX 5.”

Every year it seems like I forget that the 49ers’ preseason games are a local broadcast and not carried on Fox, the station that carries the NFC. And even though fans complain about preseason ticket prices (one of the great injustices faced by the American sports-loving consumer), you’d be hard-pressed to find a serious 49ers fan who doesn’t check out at least a portion of every preseason game on television.

In my opinion, O’Donnell does a fine job on those broadcasts. It’s funny, he’s been around for quite some time and even breaks national news occasionally (he was the one who reported the Hunter Pence trade two days before anyone else), but he isn’t talked about a lot locally, perhaps because he doesn’t have a huge personality a la Gary Radnich or Greg Papa.

I’ll be perfectly honest: I’ve never watched the “official NFL Films 49ers Highlight Show.” And I love NFL Films, which is why I’m able to sit through several minutes of Phil Simms talking and still watch “This Week in the NFL” regularly. I’m also not sure if KPIX broadcasting Harbaugh’s day after presser live means they have exclusive rights and it will no longer be carried on CSN Bay Area.

For those who say preseason doesn’t matter, I present Colin Kaepernick’s 78-yard read option scamper in the 49ers’ first exhibition game against the Minnesota Vikings. At the time it didn’t seem like much more than an interesting play in a game that meant nothing, but in reality it was a play that foreshadowed how the 2012 season would unfold.

Here’s a very premature look at the stories we’ll be paying attention to when the 49ers play meaningless games against other NFL teams:

  • Is Kaepernick noticeably improved after all the talk about his vigorous offseason workout routine?
  • Who’s going to start at safety alongside Donte Whitner? (In other words, is Eric Reid ready?)
  • Have Kyle Williams, Kendall Hunter and Mario Manningham fully recovered from their injuries?
  • Who’s going to return punts?
  • In what ways are they using free agent defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey?
  • Does Nnamdi Asomugha still have anything left?
  • Who’s going to be the No. 2 tight end, Garrett Celek or Vance McDonald?
  • Is A.J. Jenkins better, faster, stronger? Because the 49ers need him right now. (Kanye shrug)

I have a few questions that the readers can probably answer without having to wait until August. What do you think of the preseason coverage, or do you even watch preseason games? Have any of you checked out that highlight show? And what do you think of O’Donnell and Ryan as a broadcast team?