MINNEAPOLIS -- Thursday was Thanksgiving. It also was third-down day for Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“We just watch third downs on Thursday,’’ Cousins said Wednesday. “It gives us a chance for us to talk football, for me to ask questions, learn from him from a defensive perspective. I think it’s been really interesting to learn from him in a more structured way every week.’’
Entering Sunday’s game at San Francisco, Cousins is having one of the best seasons of his 10-year NFL career. In 10 games, he has thrown for 2,775 yards with 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His interception percentage of 0.5 is on pace to the best of his career, and way better than last year’s 2.5. His passer rating of 106.3 is on pace to be the second best of his career.
Zimmer has made a point this season to have weekly meetings with Cousins, in his fourth Minnesota season.
“I think our relationship has changed quite a bit in the fact that we sit there and talk about a lot of different things,” Zimmer said. “It might be 45 minutes or an hour.”
Zimmer said he’s not suggesting the conversations are “the reason (Cousins) is playing good,” but he believes it “has helped” the quarterback. Offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak agreed.
“I think their relationship has grown through those meetings. … It’s very important,” Kubiak said. “Two leaders in our organization getting together, being on the same page, there’s a lot of value in that.”
Of course, there are limits to how much the two agree on things. Zimmer has been urging Cousins to be more aggressive in recent games, saying on Monday, “He can’t second-guess himself. If he throws an interception, that’s life. But you keep going for the jugular.” Cousins responded on Wednesday by saying, “Well, I don’t want to throw picks even if the coach gave me the green light to.”
In last Sunday’s 34-31 win over Green Bay, Cousins threw what were initially ruled two interceptions by safety Darnell Savage. The first, in the second quarter, was nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty. The second, with just over two minutes remaining and the score tied 31-31, was overruled when replay determined Savage had dropped the ball.
“You understand when you hold the football, you hold much of the organization in your hands, so you want to take that seriously,” Cousins said.
After not having a snap from scrimmage in the first seven games of the season, San Francisco offensive lineman Tom Compton has averaged 27.3 plays the past three games,
Compton, a Rosemount, Minnesota, native who played for the Vikings in 2018, hasn’t started any games, but has been rotating recently at right tackle with rookie Jaylon Moore. That could continue against the Vikings since 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan likes the experience that Compton, a nine-year veteran, brings.
“One’s got a lot more experience, which makes him a little more consistent, but we also believe in Jaylon and what he has done and what he can become,’’ Shanahan said. “So, we’re trying to play both of them until we see a bigger difference.’’
Compton, 32, is in his second year with the 49ers. He has played on special teams in all 10 games this season.
The Vikings on Thursday officially announced the signing of defensive end Tashawn Bower, who was plucked Wednesday off New England’s practice squad. He will provide depth on the line with defensive end Everson Griffen away from the team due to a mental health issue.
Minnesota also activated fullback Jake Bargas off the COVID-19 practice squad reserve list. He had been placed on it Nov. 15.